The Role of the Physiatrist in Life Care Planning
Physiatrists understand the unique physiologies of persons with spinal cord and brain injuries that can cause severe impairments and potential secondary medical conditions and complications. Physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation can facilitate the development of life care plans with solid medical foundations that address the person's individual medical condition, premorbid medical issues, patient and family preferences, and desired functional outcomes. Designing a life care plan for a person who has suffered a spinal cord injury also necessitates neurogenic bladder management. Needed diagnostic testing includes laboratory testing including blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, creatinine clearance, electrolytes, urinalysis, and urine culture. Brain injuries with children, especially birth-related hypoxic ischemic injuries, can necessitate extensive, lifelong daily, medical, and rehabilitative care. The input of a physiatrist can be helpful in designing a life care plan for a person with a chronic pain problem due to the training and experience of a physiatrist in looking at the functional implications of disease and disability.