18:00 PM

Medical Staff Profile: Payal Fadia, M.D.

Q & A with Payal Fadia, M.D., Physiatrist, Shepherd Center Acquired Brain Injury Program

Q: Why did you become a doctor?

A: I always wanted to be a doctor. I loved my pediatrician, and he was my first inspiration. Watching him and other doctors help people made medicine a more appealing career choice to me than anything else I could have done with my life.

Q: What drew you to the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation?

A: I developed an interest in neurology initially. Then, during my residency, I did an elective rotation in physical medicine andrehabilitation (PM & R) and recognized the ability of PM & R physicians to take patients with neurological impairments to the next level of improvement in their recovery in a rehabilitation setting. Neurologists do wonderful things in diagnosing and treating conditions, but I like helping patients improve their quality of life through rehabilitation. PM & R physicians translate diagnostic information into functional outcomes to benefit the patient.

Q: What is distinctive about Shepherd Center’s approach that helps people successfully rehabilitate from brain and/or spinal cord injuries?

A: Shepherd Center is the third place in which I’ve practiced medicine since completing my training. What’s distinctive about Shepherd is the staff’s universal compassion and caring for the patient and family. We all have the same goal: We want what’s best for the patient, and Shepherd Center staff members have such a high degree of commitment to this goal. Everybody at Shepherd likes what they do.They’re happy in their jobs, and thus, they do them well. It’s a wonderful place to be. Also, there’s such an integrated team approach to treatment here. We treat not only the patient, but also the family. The family is drawn into the patient’s goals. The therapists, along with the nurses, case managers, neuropsychologists all bring to the treatment team a level of concern and compassion that ultimately helps patients and families reach their goals.

Q: What promise does the future hold for improved treatments for people with brain and/or spinal cord injuries?

A: This is an exciting time to be in a place where clinical trials are under way that may have significant implications for improved treatments in the future. Shepherd Center is involved in clinical trials using stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. There is also research studying the potential benefits of medications to assist with arousal, attention and improved cognition for people with brain injuries. In addition, advances are being made in robotics and neuromodulation therapies that hold promise. Shepherd is a great combination of research and clinical practice.Though it may be years before some research yields results, it does hold great promise.

Q: What have you learned about yourself and others in the process of treating people with brain and/or spinal cord injuries?

A: I’ve learned that the human spirit is resilient. We see people at the lowest point after their injury and watch them rise to the challenges and overcome great obstacles. It makes you believe in miracles.You see an inspiring strength of character in these patients. And you don’t take anything for granted. You appreciate life. Particularly in my adolescent patients, I’ve seen some with devastating injuries, and they are so resilient. You see their inner strength and determination combine with the healing of their brainsand the benefits of rehabilitation. It is especially rewarding when we sometimes see our PREP (Pre-Rehabilitation and EducationProgram) patients emerge from a Rancho 2 (minimally consciousstate) to a Rancho 5 or 6 at discharge and then continue to improve in our post-acute Shepherd Pathways program. To watch these patients begin to communicate and recover is amazing.

Interesting Facts: Dr. Payal Fadia

• Dr. Fadia and her husband have a 3-year-old daughter who Dr. Fadia describes as “amazing.”

• She is an avid Florida Gators football fan, having earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida.

• Dr. Fadia is an avid reader and especially enjoys the “Twilight” series of books.

Interviewed by Jane M. Sanders


Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.