Physiatrist Zacharia Isaac, MD, specializes in conservative spine care.

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what a physiatrist does. In the context of the medical world, physiatry is a relatively new discipline.

Recognition of the practice was heightened during World War II, when physiatrists were asked to supervise the rehabilitation of U.S. soldiers returning home with severe musculoskeletal disabilities. Soon afterward, in 1947, physiatry was formally approved as a medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Physiatrists (also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians) specialize in non-surgical care for conditions – particularly neuromuscular (nerve, muscle, and bone) disorders – that cause pain and impair normal, everyday functions. Along with their standard medical training, many physiatrists also pursue additional training in one or more of the following subspecialties: musculoskeletal rehabilitation, pediatrics, spinal cord injury, sports medicine, traumatic brain injury, and pain medicine. Brigham and Women’s Hospital physiatrists focus on caring for pain related to spine and sports conditions.

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