Alex Simotas, MD

Hospital for Special Surgery
Board Certified Physiatrist
Specializing In Spine & Sports Medicine

Home > About Us > What is Physiatry?

What is Physiatry?

Physiatrists specialize in non-surgical physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) for patients who have been disabled as a result of a disease, condition, disorder, or injury. Physiatrists treat a wide scope of cases—from brain and spinal cord injuries to stroke and burn victims.

A Multi-Disciplined Approach

Physiatrists focus on a personalized method of treatment to improve their patients’ quality of life—one that often involves a multi-disciplined and comprehensive approach to treating the patient. As a result, a patient’s recuperation requires their participation, and treatment becomes part of life. This type of approach allows individuals to return to active lifestyles that may range from light exercise to high performance sports and endurance athletics.

Non-Operative Treatment Procedures

Dr. Simotas has been specially trained and certified as a physiatrist to perform non-operative treatment procedures on patients who have spinal and sports-related injuries as well as other musculoskeletal problems. These procedures are able to restore mobility and function in patients who might otherwise require surgery.

Specially trained physiatrists like Dr. Simotas can perform minimally invasive procedures such as:

  • Radiographically guided procedures
  • Epidural steroid and facet joint injections
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Plasma Rich Platelet injections (PRP)
  • Visco-supplimentation injection therapy
  • Ultra-sound guided procedures of peripheral joints, including shoulder and knee injection procedures.

These treatments are often combined with medically supervised exercise therapies, as well as medications and orthotics, to restore mobility and function—all without the need for surgery.

Electodiagnostic Studies

Physiatrists also perform electrodiagnostic studies such as nerve conduction and electromyography. These diagnostic studies are used to measure the condition of the patient’s nerves and muscles in their relaxed and stimulated states. This helps to determine whether patients may have nerve or muscular disorders such as lumbar or cervical radiculopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other debilitating conditions.

Physiatry As A Medical Specialty

Physiatry is a medical specialty, requiring advanced training after the completion of medical school. Following their four years in medical school, physiatrists then must complete a one-year internship, followed by three years of hospital residency with a specialization in physiatry. Some Board Certified physiatrists, like Dr. Simotas and others at the Hospital for Special Surgery, have also received advanced degrees and fellowships in several areas of musculoskeletal specialization.

Benefits of Physiatry

Physiatry uses minimally invasive treatment approaches. If you are suffering from:

  • Low Back And Neck Pain
  • Disc Herniation
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Sports-Related Injuries of various joints, such as
    • Tendonitis
    • Ligament Injuries
    • Osteoarthritis

Physiatry provides effective non-operative alternatives to treat these common musculoskeletal disorders.

Physiatrists are skilled diagnosticians. Physiatrists are highly trained to analyze your situation from a broad perspective using sophisticated diagnostic testing. An excellent diagnosis is the start of excellent treatment.

Physiatrists use a multidimensional approach. Medical intervention works in tandem with complimentary approaches such as physical therapy, exercise, diet and nutrition, and other wellness therapies.

Physiatry emphasizes prevention. Once you recover, you will have the tools to minimize your chance of re-injury or re-occurrence while continuing to improve functioning and mobility.