A physiatrist often provides primary care for all patients of a stroke unit, a spinal cord injury unit, or a head injury unit within a rehabilitation hospital or a specialized facility such as a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home. Others specialize in sports medicine or pediatric rehabilitation. They treat patients directly or lead an interdisciplinary team.
Many physiatrists conduct regular outpatient clinics. This practice allows physiatrists to follow the rehabilitation progress of patients who have been discharged from the medical facility in which they provide care.
Outpatient practice also allows physiatrists to treat and diagnose patients who are referred from other specialists for evaluations related to disability management and workers' compensation or for tests like electromyography. Physiatrists often treat people with acute pain, chronic pain, amputations, musculoskeletal disorders, arthritis, back pain, sore shoulders, or carpal tunnel syndrome. They also treat babies with birth defects, victims of serious car accidents and elderly people with broken hips.
Upon request, physiatrists also provide consultation services for other specialists to determine the rehabilitation needs of an individual. Consultation services commonly are provided in academic medical institutions and in the context of private institutions.