Telehealth Physical Therapy: Benefits And Limitations

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Does living in a remote area stop you from accessing the best physical therapy service? Or are you not able to find time for physical therapy due to your hectic work schedule? Not anymore. With telehealth physical therapy, you can avail physical therapy services just by staying in the comfort of your home. Time or distance is no longer going to be a constraint.

What Is Telehealth Physical Therapy?

Telehealth physical therapy is delivering physical therapy services remotely with the help of technology. To keep it simple, it lets you consult a physical therapist via video call on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. As in the case of an in-person physical therapy session, it is a two-way communication between you and your physical therapist.

The good news is that according to the American Physical Therapy Association, people who have been availing of telehealth provided by Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs) have good outcomes with little to no risk.

How Does It Work?

In the first session, the therapist will ask you questions about your medical history and present condition. It will be followed by a physical examination. After collecting all the details, they will come up with a tailor-made plan that best suits you.

Next, the therapist will teach you exercises to improve your health condition that can be done at home. Once you start doing these exercises, there will be regular follow-up sessions to assess the condition. Based on your progress, the therapist will make necessary alterations to the treatment plan.

Telehealth Physical Therapy can be effective in the treatment of various health conditions such as chronic pain management, balance, postoperative care, and cancer rehabilitation.

Benefits Of Telehealth Physical Therapy

Now let’s quickly go through the major benefits of telehealth physical therapy.

Benefits Of Telehealth Physical Therapy
  • More convenient - There is absolutely no need to step out as physical therapy can be done just by remaining at your home. Also, there are no pain points such as heavy traffic jams and spending long hours commuting. It is a boon indeed for those who stay in places where there is less access to quality physical therapy centers.
  • Cost-effective - Are you still under the wrong notion that these sessions are too expensive? You may be delighted to know that telehealth physical therapy only costs the same or less than in-person visits.
  • Ease of scheduling - Unlike, in-person appointments, it is pretty easy to schedule an appointment for telehealth physical therapy. All you need is an email address and access to a computer or mobile phone that has a video camera and microphone. In the post-Covid world, telehealth treatments have found increasing acceptance among patients.
  • Insurance coverage - There is one more reason to cheer as there are several health insurance plans available that cover telehealth physical therapy visits. A majority of the health insurance companies in the United States have come up with separate coverage plans for telehealth physical therapy. 

Limitations 

Telehealth physical therapy comes with its own drawbacks.

  • Technical glitches can play spoilsport - A poor internet connection, equipment breakdown, and other technical issues may act as a barrier in telehealth physical therapy. Especially, losing access to treatment during times of chronic pain can be quite challenging.
  • Personal preferences matter - Some people may not be comfortable with online sessions as they lack interaction. Also, there are many who are not tech-savvy, especially in the case of elderly people. Hence, such people prefer an in-person physical therapy appointment.
  • Difficult to diagnose - In the case of certain health issues, it is necessary to meet a patient to diagnose his/her ailment. Thus, online sessions may not prove effective in all cases, especially when close examination is required from the side of medical experts.
  • Limited options of treatment - From the point of view of a physical therapist, it becomes challenging when it comes to manual stimulation of muscles, dry needle triggering, and cupping poses online.

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Conclusion

Hope you are super excited to try out the telehealth physical therapy. Without a doubt, the advantages of online treatment far outweigh its limitations, especially during times when we are forced to stay back at home as happened in the case of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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