Virtual meetings.

Virtual birthday parties.

Virtual interviews.

Virtual School.

Virtual physiotherapy?

We have all been significantly impacted by COVID-19, and have had to adapt all areas of our lives to the new normal. Living our lives “virtually” seems to be part of the new normal, and adapting to this virtually driven world has created questions, challenges, and adaptations.

Like all industries, professions, and businesses, physiotherapy has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. As a physiotherapist, I work with my patients to alleviate symptoms, recover post surgery, or manage an injury by providing hands on care, in person consultations, functional movement assessments, and manual techniques. My practice has been in person, my patients come into the clinic, and I have never practiced any other way!

With rest of Canada, in March 2020, I had to make a shift. With physical distancing protocols in place, isolation mandates, and proper practice to stop the spread of the virus, I had to adapt quickly to this new normal to make sure my patients still received the care they needed to rehabilitate. We are now back to working in person, but over the last year I have seen that there can be a benefit to virtual physiotherapy, and it can be useful for certain patients and injuries. And… if in person treatment is not available, virtual physiotherapy is a great alternative to keep making gains.

So here it is, my top 6 reflections and learnings from virtual physiotherapy.

1. Education and Advice immediately!
Would you seek your teachers advice over the phone if you required advice about a project? Would you call your personal trainer to review a certain exercise, or ask a question about how to progress? Would you seek your Doctor’s advice over the phone if you had any concerns regarding your health and well-being? Would you speak to your Dentist over the phone if you had an ache in a tooth and was wondering what steps you should take to alleviate the pain? Just like these professions, we have a lot of advice to offer our patients. Every registered

physiotherapist graduating in Canada since 2006 would have completed a Professional Masters of Science Degree. Along with our manual skills, patient education is one of the things we do best! We know how to manage pain, we can explain why pain occurs, we can predict how performing (or not performing) movements will impact your pain. Best of all, we do not need to be face to face with our clients to educate them. We can do this from the comfort (and safety) of our homes! All ALPHA physiotherapists are well versed, trained, and able to provide advice and treatment options virtually.

2. Working from home = ergonomic assessment!
Are you now working from home? Have you created a makeshift workstation? Are your kids working from the family office desk and you are on your bed? We hear you loud and clear, COVID-19 has forced creativity and adapting to the situation. However, is your new setup causing some pain? With virtual physiotherapy we can now see your workstation as you work! No more assumptions on posture, positioning, desk and screen set up. We can see it for ourselves. We can give you suggestions, guidance and direction on changes that you can make to help manage any pain or discomfort you are feeling. Based on your specific situation, we can comment on how to make the necessary adjustments you need so that you feel comfortable working at home.

3. Rehabilitative and Functional Exercise
In most physiotherapy treatment plans, exercise and activity modification is at its core. Even though it may be more ideal to learn exercises in person, it is certainly a great alternative to use video chats or virtual sessions! As long as we can see you, we can offer feedback. Furthermore, we can show you HOW to implement these exercise suggestions in your home! Additionally, recording or sending videos from our library can ensure you are doing the movement correctly, to achieve maximum gain.

4. Remove Geographical Barriers
With virtual physiotherapy and tele rehabilitation, we have the ability to connect with our patients from anywhere. The availability of virtual care means stress can be alleviated if geography, time, or life situations arising.

5. Accountability and control
Accountability is key in rehab! We use our virtual sessions to help you treat yourself and make you accountable for your own health, while supporting you every step of the way.

I would rather treat my patients in person, however it has been interesting to see how virtual physiotherapy supports and encourages patients to be accountable.

 

Virtual physiotherapy is not for everyone, and I have had patients who aren’t suitable for the delivery of services virtually. However, as a physiotherapist pushed out of my comfort zone when COVID-19 hit, I have seen the benefit of virtual physiotherapy for my patients. We are now able to safely provide physiotherapy in clinic, but there are still some patients who prefer and benefit from virtual rehabilitation – and I am proud to be a virtual physiotherapist for these patients!

To learn more about tele rehab, click here

By Charlotte Anderson
Registered Physiotherapist, PhD
Book with Charlotte

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