As technology continues to advance, an increasing number of patients are turning to telehealth for their healthcare needs. While many facets of medicine can be easily administered via digital solutions, physical therapy typically requires a more hands-on approach with heat treatments, exercises, and equipment. Despite the perceived difficulties that may arise when attempting to perform physical therapy virtually, the latest technological advancements have provided physical therapists with the tools they need to effectively deliver digital physical therapy.
What Physical Therapy Entails
Physical therapy is a form of care that focuses on treating injuries, deformities, or diseases with different types of physical techniques. These techniques typically include heat treatment, massages, exercises, and similar treatment methods. When applied properly, patients should benefit from a reduction in pain as well as improved movements. The goal of physical therapy is to administer treatment in a manner that doesn’t involve surgery or medications. However, physical therapy is commonly used following surgery to aid in recovery.
How Physical Therapy Can Be Performed Virtually
While physical therapy typically involves stretching, simple exercises, touching, and placing pressure on joints and muscles, this treatment can still occur with telehealth. Keep in mind that providing digital treatment allows healthcare to be more efficient and scalable, which makes it easier for healthcare providers to focus on growth within their organizations.
All of the same elements of physical therapy that are provided in an in-office setting can also be administered virtually. For instance, physical therapists can guide their patients on how to properly stretch and exercise with on-screen instruction. With the proper approach, physical therapists should also be able to assess the health of patients by asking the right questions.
Despite the fact that physical therapy involves physical methods of treatment, it’s not solely about touch. If the physical therapist can offer detailed instructions and perform the same exercises that the patient does, the patient will benefit from their instruction despite the distance between patient and therapist.
According to a report that was recently published by the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, patients who received digital physical therapy were hospitalized less and were able to perform more physical activities when compared to patients who received in-office treatment. The techniques that were used during this study included digital instructors who were able to offer instant feedback on the patient’s exercises and live telehealth visits with a physical therapist.
The most important aspect of providing physical therapy virtually is to continue creating personalized therapy programs that are specific to each individual patient. For the patient, the only items that are required for virtual physical therapy include a stable internet connection, good lighting, and ample space for performing stretches and exercises. With the right therapist, virtual treatment can be as effective as in-person treatment.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that your patients have options for limiting their possible exposure to the virus. With the right technology in place, digital treatment is simple and will give you the opportunity to provide efficient physical therapy.