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The physiatrist’s role in workers’ compensation

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Physiatrists play an important role in the workers’ compensation system. Physiatrists partner with authorized treating physicians (ATPs) to co-manage the care of injured workers and help them recover and engage in productive activity as soon as medically reasonable. Referrals to physiatrists, who assist with pain management, usually happen when injuries are more complex or difficult to manage. However, physiatrists should always follow the evidence, and their primary focus should be on restoring function, minimizing overtreatment and preventing medicalization (patient overreliance on the medical system). Physiatrists should maintain a holistic perspective and not simply focus on individual body parts. Ultimately, the physiatrist can serve as a smart, thoughtful ATP colleague.

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