Telehealth — a live, one-on-one video appointment with your PT — may be a solution. Telehealth is becoming a popular option that enables patients to see and talk to their health care providers, including a growing number of PTs, from the comfort and convenience of home.
Here are a few reasons to consider telehealth physical therapy:
Telehealth can help you stay connected with your physical therapist after initial in-person visits. Telehealth may also increase your ability to connect with a PT who is experienced in treating people with your condition or who is a board-certified clinical specialist, who may not be near you. It also can help people who live in areas where access to physical therapy is lacking.
2. Home safety.
If falling is a concern, a virtual telehealth appointment with your PT is an opportunity to discuss ways to improve the safety of your home. They also can discuss what you should do if you fall.
3. Personalized care.
During a private telehealth visit, you will work one-on-one with your PT, without distractions. You also can involve family members or caregivers in your appointment, if you like.
4. Success rates.
Patients who take part in telehealth physical therapy are more likely to stick to their home exercise programs. Your PT can provide you a safe and effective home exercise program to do at home based on your specific needs and goals. Sticking to your exercise prescription is a vital part of your long-term health.
5. Time savings.
There’s no waiting room. And after your telehealth appointment, you can quickly get back to what you were doing at home without having to spend time on the road.
No need to drive! A telehealth appointment reduces the burden of commuting to and from appointments. Telehealth works well for parents with a child at home, caregivers concerned about the physical demands of transporting their loved one to and from appointments, and those who don’t have easy access to transportation.
The majority of patients who have participated in telehealth physical therapy were satisfied with their experience and would do it again. Patients expressed feeling connected and supported by their telehealth physical therapist. Having this support at home while going through rehabilitation is valuable. Studies show that telehealth physical therapy can result in equal or better outcomes.
What are the considerations for telehealth physical therapy?
Telehealth may or may not be available in your area or may not be covered by your insurance provider. Also, you likely will need to meet in person with your PT for an initial evaluation and to determine if telehealth physical therapy is the right approach for you.
To advocate for telehealth physical therapy services for Medicare/Medicaid recipients, tell Congress to waive restrictions.
Who can participate in telehealth physical therapy?
People of all ages and who have a variety of symptoms and medical conditions may be candidates for telehealth. A few examples of conditions for which a PT can help you virtually include:
Chronic pain management.
Other conditions your PT determines are appropriate for telehealth.
Practice laws governing the use of telehealth services and vary by state.
What do I need to participate in a telehealth physical therapy visit?
There is no training required for patients to take part in telehealth. Typically, you will need an email address and access to a computer or device that has a video camera and microphone. If your PT offers telehealth services, they will supply more details and instructions.
When you connect with your PT remotely, make sure your appointment meets your needs.
Authored by Christina Sue Crawford, PT, DPT, board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy and advanced credentialed exercise expert for aging adults.
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