Some people struggle for years with pain or limited mobility, but the right doctor can turn their situation around. Katherine L. Maurath, M.D., recalls her patient who, “After years of golfing, couldn’t stand or walk without pain.” With proper diagnosis and two epidural injections, he golfed another two years before needing surgery. Or consider the gardener whose hip pain kept her indoors for two years. Jason M. Dancy, M.D., diagnosed her problem and calmed her acute pain with an analgesic/steroid injection so she could start physical therapy. “She’s elated to be back in her garden,” says Dancy.
Both patients benefited from Maurath’s and Dancy’s knowledge of physiatry. As physiatrists, they diagnose and treat bone, joint and neuromuscular conditions that interfere with normal functioning. Both practice at Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery. Maurath completed her medical degree and residency at the University of Cincinnati. Dancy earned his medical degree at the Medical University of the Americas in Nevis, West Indies, and completed his residency at Case Western Reserve University. He pursued fellowship training in spine medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
How Physiatry Helps
When patients seek help, physiatrists evaluate lifestyle, work environment and underlying medical conditions. The solution might be as simple as adjusting the height of a computer screen to alleviate neck pain. Another patient might need physical, speech and occupational therapy to recover from a stroke or car accident. Although many people confuse physiatry with physical therapy, they are different. “We refer patients to therapy, but don’t provide hands-on therapy like a physical therapist,” Maurath says. While Dancy helps patients cope with pain, he explains, “When people hear ‘pain management’ they think of medication, but that’s usually the third or fourth option, after exercise, lifestyle and ergonomic modifications and physical therapy.” If a chronic condition exists, physiatrists can refer patients to a specialist. “I regularly meet with other members of the patient’s healthcare team,” Maurath explains. Physiatrists also use assistive devices such as braces, walkers or prostheses to help patients adapt after a stroke, injury or amputation.
Stepping into a physiatrist’s waiting room, you see patients of all ages. Maurath uses Botox injections to give young migraine sufferers relief and to relax spastic muscles in older patients. Patients of any age regaining mobility after a car accident benefit from a physiatrist’s knowledge of the musculoskeletal system, as do patients with arthritis, stroke-related issues or chronic back pain. “As our population ages, physiatrists are called upon more and more,” says Dancy.
A Personalized Approach
Though Maurath began as an internist, “I switched to physiatry when I realized that patients’ underlying neuromuscular issues weren’t being addressed.” Dancy shares a similar philosophy. “Physiatry isn’t ‘one size fits all’. Everyone has their own goals and needs their own treatment plan. As physiatrists, we work with patients to help achieve those goals.”
A strategic affiliate of Southeast Georgia Health System, Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery has offices in Brunswick, St. Simons Island and St. Marys. In most cases, a referral is not needed to see a physiatrist. To schedule a consultation with Katherine L. Maurath or Jason M. Dancy, call 912-466-7340.