Physiatry: Caring for body, mind, and spirit

Physiatrist Allen Khademi, MD, has joined Christian Health Care Center (CHCC) as Vice President of Medical Affairs. He brings a quarter century of knowledge and experience from providing medical leadership and practicing in acute-care hospitals and rehabilitative facilities in the Northeast. Here, Dr. Khademi explains physiatry and its role at CHCC.

What is physiatry?

“Physiatry is the medical specialty of focuses on physical medicine and rehabilitation. It pertains to any patient who has had a decline in his/her well-being and ability to function, and requires rehabilitation and other interventions to heal. It is a very broad field encompassing the treatment of individuals with a variety of illnesses and/or injuries, which I find very interesting and challenging. Physiatrists help people with neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis; musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain, fractures, or joint replacement; cardiac and pulmonary conditions; and generalized weakness and debility.”

What interested you in physiatry?

“The goal of physiatry is to help individuals restore their level of functioning and improve their quality of life. It’s not just about prescribing a pill. Physiatrists are experts in designing a comprehensive, patient-centered treatment plan. We work in conjunction with an entire treatment team to address all aspects of an individual’s care and well-being. Physiatrists look at a person as a whole and help to restore wellness, as well as help an individual to make healthy choices toward staying well.”

What is physiatry’s role in short-term rehab?

“Short-term rehab refers to an inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation facility, such as ours, which individuals may qualify for when they are in a weakened state, often after being hospitalized for an illness. A physiatrist provides medical guidance and oversight to the treatment team, which includes rehabilitation therapists, nursing staff, dietitian, and social worker. The goal is to help patients restore their level of functioning so that they can be as independent and active as possible, and to empower them to successfully continue on their path toward recovery and staying well in the future.

 What is your philosophy of medicine?

“The practice of medicine is just as much of an art as it is a science. It’s applying scientific knowledge, but also closely listening, observing, knowing what questions to ask, weighing the possibilities, communicating effectively, educating, and adjusting to best serve the individual. For true healing, understanding and addressing the cause of an illness is paramount. It’s about more than just treating the symptoms. And prevention is better than cure. There’s a lot to be said for the value of good nutrition, basic exercise, proper hygiene, maintaining flexibility, managing stress levels, and leading an active and fulfilling lifestyle.”

 Why did you want to become a physician?

“For as long as I can remember, I have been motivated to serve others through promoting their healing and well-being. My mother was a nurse and my father a physician, and I enjoyed observing their passion toward health care. I must have inherited it from them, because I naturally feel the same. Being a physician is a special privilege because we are given the opportunity to help ease a person’s physical and/or mental pain, and to teach him/her how to stay healthy. I strive to take care of others as I would want my family or myself to be taken care of.”

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