2018 Top Doctor: Mona Mhatre

Written by Editorial Staff Category: Profiles Issue: April 2018
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Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Med School/Year Graduated: Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, 2006
Years in Practice: 8

2018 Top Doctor: Mona Mhatre

You specialize in rehabilitation for patients who have experienced trauma. What makes your work with these patients different from, say, otherwise healthy athletes who pulled a muscle while exercising?
I specialize as an inpatient physiatrist in both acute and subacute rehabilitation facilities. Some of the most common diagnoses and populations we see in the inpatient setting include spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, orthopedic injuries or fractures, amputations and general rehabilitation following trauma, prolonged illness or hospitalization. An otherwise healthy athlete would likely be seen in an outpatient setting. 

What is meant by “subacute” or “transitional” rehab?
Acute inpatient rehabilitation is for patients who need and can tolerate intensive rehabilitation. People who are not ready for an acute rehabilitation setting may benefit from transitional, subacute or long-term acute care. In general, individuals in these settings have multiple medical issues and are unable to participate in three hours of therapy per day as a result of their illness. 

What drew you to working in physical medicine?
I really appreciate the fact that, unlike many other medical specialties that focus on curing a disease, as a physiatrist my goal is to maximize patients’ function and independence in activities of daily living, and in turn improve their quality of life.

You are currently involved in a study to learn the unique barriers to health care faced by women with disabilities. What have you found thus far?
Research has shown that access to health care is not always equal. One of the most neglected aspects of the health of women with physical disabilities is reproductive health. We’ve found that it’s often difficult for this population to find health care providers and hospitals [that] have experience in managing pregnancy and childbirth in women with disabilities and they also are significantly less likely to be screened for cervical cancer due to exam table and equipment barriers.

Do you ever perform surgery in your capacity as a PM&R doc?
As a physiatrist, I evaluate and treat patients with impairments and disabilities that result from neurological conditions, musculoskeletal conditions or other medical conditions. Our goal is to decrease pain and enhance function without surgery.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my family, including my two young sons, who bring me much joy and keep me very busy!

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
When I was much younger, I always thought I’d be a teacher. As I grew and my interests changed, I leaned more toward medicine. However, as physicians, we are always teaching and learning from our patients, so to some degree I’m able to do both.