Rehabilitation Medicine


Rehabilitation medicine focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of muscular, skeletal, and neurological problems. Rehabilitation medicine doctors are called physiatrists (fih-ZY-uh-trists). They’re trained in physical medicine, which is the treatment and prevention of injuries without medicine or surgery.

MSK’s physiatrists help with problems from cancer and cancer treatments. They will create a program to help restore your strength, flexibility, balance, and dexterity (agility). Their programs can help you during any stage of your cancer treatment or recovery.

MSK doctors sometimes recommend chemotherapy before surgery. This treatment is called neoadjuvant (NEE-oh-A-joo-vant) therapy. Our physiatrists can design a prehabilitation program to help your body be in better physical shape for neoadjuvant therapy and surgery. Prehabilitation helps prevent or reduce weakness and fatigue (feeling very tired). These are common side effects of chemotherapy.

Our doctors also help you manage disabilities or problems with moving that can be affected by cancer treatments. Ask your MSK cancer doctor to refer you to the Rehabilitation Medicine Service. We can help:

  • Restore your mobility (ability to move).
  • Return you to work or sports.
  • Improve how well your body works.
  • Improve joint and muscle symptoms.

Services we offer

Our rehabilitation doctors (physiatrists) diagnose conditions that can limit mobility, strength, balance, and other functions. They also can help with painful nerve and muscle disorders. Your treatment plan can include:

  • Medicine and therapies, with instructions and information about how to prevent injuries.
  • Teaching you about self-care methods, such as stretching, exercise, and fixing your posture.
  • Prehabilitation, including activities and exercises that are right for your physical abilities and limitations. This program will help you get ready for surgery and prevent weakness during chemo.
  • Injections in your joints and soft tissues to relieve pain, if appropriate.
  • Braces that support your spine or limbs
  • Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox®) to relieve muscle spasms, if appropriate.

You also may have a diagnostic test to see what is causing your pain or weakness. Electromyography (EMG) is a test that checks your body’s nerves and muscles, and the electrical activity of your muscles.

Convenient locations: You can visit MSK physiatrists closer to home, not just in Manhattan. You can ask your cancer doctor to request a consultation if you think we can help you. Our physiatrists are available at most of our regional outpatient locations in New Jersey and Westchester County and on Long Island. You can get the same outstanding care from our doctors at these sites.