What Is a Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist?

What Is a Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist?

What’s the difference between a physiatrist vs physical therapist?

Both help patients recover during stroke rehabilitation, but each does a different job.

See what they each do below, along with 11 other members of the stroke rehab team.

Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist

  • A physiatrist is a rehabilitation specialist who treats injuries that affect mobility. They also help alleviate pain, restore maximum funtion, and provide non-surgical treatments.
  • A physical therapist is a movement specialist who helps rehabilitate physical problems that restrict movement.

Along with your physiatrist and physical therapist, you may receive care from 9 other specialists during your recovery from stroke.

Here’s a deeper breakdown:

Other Specialists Involved with Stroke Rehabilitation

physiatrist vs physical therapist

Below you will learn about 9 other specialists involved in the stroke rehabilitation process.

1. Occupational Therapist

Practical movement specialist

Occupational therapists will focus more on helping you with self-care tasks like the activities of daily living (i.e. eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and continence). While your physical therapist treats your actual impairment, your occupational therapist will treat the impairment in action. For example, your physical therapist can help you regain strength in your wrist and then your occupational therapist will help you relearn how to use your wrist to properly brush your teeth again.

2. Recreational Therapist

Fun specialist

Your recreational therapist will help you improve physical and cognitive skills necessary to enjoy recreational activities again. Participating in enjoyable activities can help boost your recovery, and a recreational therapist is the man/woman for the job!

3. Neurologist

Brain specialist

Your neurologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, including stroke. During your stroke recovery, a neurologist will be responsible for recommending any surgical treatments that are necessary, but they won’t be the one performing the surgery.

4. Rehabilitation Nurse

Wellbeing specialist

A rehabilitation nurse specializes in helping people with disabilities. Your rehab nurse will work with you and your family to create a recovery plan with short- and long-term goals to help you reach your full potential.

5. Neuropsychologist

Behavioral specialist

Whereas physical, occupational, and recreational therapists all focus on helping you regain movement, your neuropsychologist will help diagnose and treat any thinking, memory, and behavioral problems that resulted from the stroke.

6. Speech-Language Pathologist

Language specialist

Your speech-language pathologist will help you relearn language skills like talking, reading, and writing. Stroke survivors with aphasia will work closely with their speech-language pathologist, and those with swallowing problems can also benefit from the assistance of a speech-language pathologist.

7. Dietician

Nutrition specialist

A dietician will help you make healthy eating choices for stroke recovery based on your specific needs. For example, if you have high blood pressure, then your dietician will help develop a low-sodium nutrition plan for you.

8. Social Worker

Decision specialist

Your social worker will help you make decisions about rehab programs, insurance, living arrangements, and support services at home. Your social worker will work with you and your family to create arrangements for your continued recovery.

9. Case Manager

Treatment destination specialist

Your case manager will help make any necessary arrangements for your treatment. Your case manager will help facilitate any necessary inpatient care, coordinate care from different providers, and connect you with local services.

Now that you know what your rehab team specializes in, feel confident that you’re in good hands. And if you ever have a question, you know which specialist to ask.

You can also leave any questions that you have in the comments section below. We’ll be sure to get back to you!