Rummana Aslam, MD, a physiatrist (a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation), became interested in her field based on her concern for what happens to patients function and quality of life after a serious injury or disease.
“During my critical care fellowship, I took care of a lot of young patients who had gunshot wounds or spinal cord injuries and who had been perfectly healthy beforehand,” Dr. Aslam says. “But after a few months in the ICU, they came out with disabilities such as an elbow or a hand that was weak or contracted and didn’t work. I felt like we saved their lives, but few paid attention to whether they could feed themselves or go back to work after they went home.”
Her goal as a physiatrist, Dr. Aslam explains, is to help patients get back to the quality of life they had before experiencing a severe illness, surgery, or trauma. As medical director of Yale New Haven Health’s Lawrence + Memorial Hospital Wound Center in New London, Dr. Aslam is especially focused on helping patients who have chronic wounds. These patients could be diabetics who had an amputation or are at risk of amputation and people with leg ulcers, which can be caused by years of smoking or poor circulation
“I want to help patients improve function. They may have to live with a chronic wound for a long time. Instead of ending up disabled and staying home, my job is to keep them working and healthy and fit while they are healing,” she says. “I like to say that I want to focus on wellness and wellbeing of patients adding years to their lives but more importantly adding life to those years.”
Dr. Aslam also treats patients brain injuries, including concussions, back pain and people with challenges with mobility, including amputees and post stroke. “There are so many people and most of them can be helped without surgery, but instead with a good exercise plan and therapies and assistive technology” she says