Hospital  >  Departments  >  Medicine  >  Divisions  >  Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation  >  About Physiatrists (Rehabilitation Physicians)

About Physiatrists (Rehabilitation Physicians)


A physiatrist, or rehabilitation physician, is a medical doctor who has also completed residency training in the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). The minimum years following medical school is 5 years but most take additional training beyond the 5 years of residency training to maximize their skills. 


The physiatrist is a nerve, muscle, bone and brain expert who diagnoses and treats injuries or illnesses that affect how you move, from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. Their focus is on the development of a comprehensive program for putting the pieces of a person's life back together after injury or disease - without surgery. Their approach to patient care looks at the whole person and not just one symptom or condition.


In addition to consulting inpatient rehabilitation services, physiatrists treat neurological rehabilitation conditions including stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injury. Physiatric scope of practice also includes the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, pain syndromes, and sports injuries.

Physiatrists are also trained in performing EMG and nerve conduction studies as well as the prescription of devices such as wheelchairs, canes crutches and orthotics (braces). They are specialists trained to treat and prevent limb loss. When limb loss occurs the physiatrist is trained to provide the best prosthesis for the individual after undergoing a team consultation.

Members are also interested and trained in complementary and alternative medicine. The physiatrist is uniquely trained to assess and treat individuals recovering from accidents - Workers Safety Insurance and automobile accidents with multiple traumas.

Specifically, physiatrists:

  • Diagnose and treat pain
  • Restore maximum function lost through injury, illness or disabling conditions
  • Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
  • Lead a team of medical professionals
  • Provide non-surgical treatments
  • Explain your medical problems and treatment/prevention plan


Physiatrists take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of an ailment. They then design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of his/her medical team. This medical team might include other physicians and health professionals, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical and occupational therapists. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, physiatrists help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person's lifetime.

Location and contact

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation division

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4069


For referrals:

Fax: 416-480-6885
Email: queenie.jung

Dr. David Berbrayer
Medical Director, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics

Dr. Larry Robinson
Division Head, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation