Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Allen C. Tafel, MD is a board-certified specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), which is also known as Physiatry. Dr. Tafel is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic pain and disability caused by injury, illness or conditions involving any organ system.
Patients in Southwest Florida are fortunate to have access to his treatments for a wide range of injuries and illnesses that impair movement, including but not limited to, neck or back pain, sports or work injuries, including sore shoulders, and spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Tafel is focused on quality of life issues. His goal is to restore his patients to pain-free, maximum function that was lost due to injury, illness or disabling conditions. He treats the whole person, not merely the problem area, to restore patients to productive lives. All treatments are nonsurgical, via a comprehensive, personalized program, and are geared to rehabilitation-enhancing a patient’s abilities and performance, and preventing further disability. His services are also applied to sport injuries, through development of programs to help athletes to avoid injury.
Nonsurgical approaches include therapeutic exercises, physical therapy, occupational therapy, ultrasound, ice and heat therapy, medications, and injections for pain and spasticity, as well as prostheses (artificial limbs), braces and equipment to assist with daily activities of living, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
The goal of rehabilitation is to decrease pain and enhance performance without surgery, and to help the patient return to and maintain a high level of function. Pain medications are used to help bring severe pain under control in order for the patient to participate in rehabilitation.
Collaborating with a team of medical professionals, including neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, to coordinate care, Dr. Tafel will look at the “big picture,” treating the whole person, to improve function, mobility, and the activities of daily living.
Dr. Tafel will conduct a comprehensive Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation evaluation, including a complete history and physical examination. He will listen and discuss a patient’s pain, symptoms and how functional abilities are impaired. He will inquire about, and search for, abnormalities that can help determine a diagnosis such as other conditions and their symptoms.
Dr. Tafel will assess your condition, needs and expectations, and utilize diagnostic tools to identify the source of your problems. One diagnostic tool is electrodiagnosis, which is the process of measuring the speed and degree of electrical signals in the nerves and muscles. Two commonly used tests are:
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Nerve conduction studies (NCS)
Patients who have pain, weakness or numbness in the back, neck or hands, muscle stiffness or lack of tone, will benefit from electrodiagnosis, which help pinpoint, the diagnosis.
Other diagnostic technologies that may be employed depend on the type of disability or injury, and may include:
- Discography, Disc Decompression and Vertebroplasy/Kyphoplasty
- Nerve Stimulators, Blocks and Ablation procedures—Peripheral and Spinal
- Injections of joints
- Spasticity Treatment (Phenol and Botulinum toxin injections, intrathecal baclofen pump trial and implants)
- Nerve and Muscle Biopsy
- Manual Medicine/Osteopathic Treatment
- Prosthetics and Orthotics
- Complementary-alternative medicine (i.e. acupuncture, etc.)
- Disability/impairment assessment
A Personalized Treatment Plan
Once a diagnosis is made, Dr. Tafel will develop a comprehensive, patient-centered program to restore the patient’s quality of life after injury or disease. The plan developed can be carried out by the patient or with the assistance of a medical team.
He may prescribe medications as deemed appropriate to the specific needs of the patient. In particular, he specializes in spasticity management.
Physiatrists often focus on sports-related injuries that can result in chronic pain and disability, with the goal of restoring maximum function, and reducing pain. In addition, the physiatrist will help injured athletes to avoid future injury by developing a rehabilitation plan that addresses the cause of the initial injury. This is especially important because post-injury arthritis is common, and in many cases, a sports injury predisposes a patient to repeat injuries in the same area.
Dr. Tafel will explain your injuries and the treatment plan, and teach you how to prevent repeat injuries. If you or a loved one is suffering from debilitating chronic pain and function, it is in your best interest to contact Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida to learn what you can do to optimize your quality of life.