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Telerehabilitation - Can telehealth work for physical therapy?

For over 14 years physical therapy associations advocate that telehealth is a suitable model for physical therapy, but (even not in a global pandemic) telerehabilitation hasn’t been widely adopted yet by physical therapy practices. So, the question is does it really works?

Let’s be real. There are some activities that are more difficult to adapt to digital format, or can’t be digital forever. Industries like physical therapy are still discovering how to adapt their work online without losing quality and they’re trying to find new ways to continue providing the same care.

Even though the global pandemic put telemedicine in the spotlight, a lot of people were studying it and actually applying it a long time before. A recent study showed that telemedicine used for at-home rehab can be as effective as in person.

Why adopt telerehabilitation?

Lately, we’re facing some new norms and living in the new normal with social distancing, and a lot of people can’t decide whether to consider physical therapy as something ‘essential’. Yes, nobody would say no to musculoskeletal treatment, but most of us can probably agree that a mildly sprained ankle won’t’ require immediate in-person attention. Here comes the gray area for some of our patients and we really need to find a way and know how to help them providing them the best possible access to the care they might not otherwise get.

Besides, we’re living a very busy life in an increasingly demanding society. People know what they want, and they want it now. They’re looking for immediate care, and they don’t want to wait weeks for an appointment, especially when they only need an exercise prescription or general guidance.

Also, we can’t forget that people from rural areas, or people with mobility constraints, or with some other disabilities, or with vertigo or vestibular problems. They see telehealth as the only way to access healthcare.

Where can I apply telemedicine in physiotherapy?

It might sound odd but, telemedicine can be applied much more in physiotherapy than you can imagine. Chronic conditions that require hands-on attention, also require long-term care to sustain wellness, so telerehabilitation comes in handy. You can use it for follow up and monitoring visits as well. After orthopedic surgeries and other hospitalizations, telerehabilitation can be really useful because patients might have limited mobility. For sports medicine, physical therapists use telemedicine to diagnose, treat, and prevent sports-related injuries.

How to operate telerehabilitation?

As we already mentioned, there are some situations or activities that can’t be done virtually and require in-person evaluation or treatment, but when the situation allows telehealth there are a lot of creative ways, such as occupation-based couching for example.

What is occupation-based couching?

It’s when a physical therapist works with some family member of the patient in order to provide interventions during virtual therapy.

For example, you can ask them to do a strength test for you or help the patient walk across the room, or do a certain movement repeatedly on camera so you can see the muscles or compare and then suggest exercises or make decisions for further activities. Additionally, if your patient has access to a pool, you can prepare some water exercises and watch them through the camera.

We understand that physical therapy is one of the fields that might struggle the most with providing care remotely, but it’s clear that telerehabilitation works, and sometimes even works better.

Kailo for physical therapy practices

The majority of Kailo users are physical therapy practices or chiropractors. Besides telehealth, Kailo offers a lot of features for this type of treatments and can be a great asset for your practice.

Request a demo now, a see how Kailo can help you provide modern rehabilitative care.

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