Thomas Tokarz, DO (doctor of osteopathy), became interested in the field of physiatry, which focuses on physical medicine and rehabilitation, when he was in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015.
Dr. Tokarz, who had enlisted in the Army after high school and returned to service later on to pay for medical school, says he noticed the high rate of musculoskeletal issues among those in active duty.
“There was a lot of knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and I enjoyed taking care of them with those issues,” he says. “I looked for a specialty that mimicked that kind of patient care and found physiatry.”
Dr. Tokarz specializes in non-operative treatment of musculoskeletal pain, including pain that affects the peripheral joints and back. “I like finding out what a patient’s issue is, and even if it’s something that won’t go away completely or has flare-ups, we can find ways to manage it,” he says. “When I was treating soldiers, they always had a physical fitness test every six months, so even if they had an injury, you’d have to try and get them to that next test.”
At Yale, Dr. Tokarz says he values being a part of an academic medical center. “We’re able to be more methodical. We have researchers trying to figure out the next best treatment or care,” he says. “And we’re always able to collaborate with a multitude of different specialties, while still keeping patients under one umbrella, under one roof, under one family.”
Years In Practice