COVID-19 is changing the way we live our everyday lives, especially in the world of health care. With patients needing to shelter at home due to concerns over their health, many doctors and specialists are beginning to offer telemedicine (also known as telehealth) appointments for their patients. These appointments allow patients to seek medical advice from the comfort and safety of their own homes, and have been a game-changer during the current pandemic.
The providers at Arthritis & Sports have been championing this approach for several months, providing over 600 telemedicine visits so far this year. But while telemedicine has grown in popularity for diagnosing and treating minor conditions, what about when you need physical therapy after an injury? Or what about when you need a hand specialist to help heal after surgery?
As we’ve seen over the past months, the answer to these questions has been a resounding yes! Here’s a closer look at how our rehabilitation team is adapting to help our patients heal at home:
What is telerehab?
Telerehab, also known as telemedicine or telehealth, lets you easily connect with one of our licensed therapists from the convenience of your home. Using web-based technology, these one-on-one sessions are delivered in real-time, much like using Facetime or Zoom to connect with friends and family. These sessions may be offered in place of or in addition to your in-person therapy sessions, dependent on your condition and preference.
How does it work?
Telerehab sessions are very similar to our in-person visits but have some special requirements. Before you can begin, you must have access to a computer or device with a camera and microphone, as well as internet access. This will allow you to connect to our online platform where your visit will take place.
Tip: While laptops and tablets work best due to their larger screens, modern smartphones will also work.
On the day of your appointment, our team will send you a link that will bring you to your therapist’s digital waiting room. All you have to do is click the link – no downloads or accounts required!
Just like a normal in-person visit, your therapist will cover:
Any relevant paperwork
Education on your medical condition/symptoms
Exercises and techniques to address your pain/impairments
Instructions on how to best move forward with your therapy program
Your therapist will also assess the patterns of your daily life to see how you can reduce strain on your body. Poor posture can contribute to many problems like back and neck pain, and a poorly designed workstation is not going to help. For people working from home, your therapist can look at how your workstation is set up and make ergonomic suggestions that can greatly improve your symptoms.
Do I need any special equipment?
Typical physical and occupational therapy uses a lot of bells and whistles that patients typically don’t have access to at home. That means our therapists have to get creative with their prescribed treatments and exercises.
While performing certain therapeutic techniques are better when you can actually touch the patient, your therapist can teach you creative ways to perform them on yourself. Sometimes this may require you to buy a special tool online, which your therapist will then show you how to use. However, some everyday items can be used as effective alternatives:
Soup cans and water bottles can be used in place of small hand weights (you can even fill water bottles with sand for more weight)
Pool noodles and brooms can be used to perform range of motion exercises
Rolling pins and tennis balls make great alternatives to some popular massage tools
Is telerehab covered by my insurance?
Many insurance payers have moved to cover telehealth benefits for physical therapy during the current COVID-19 epidemic. As a courtesy to our patients, our team will verify your insurance information prior to your first appointment, and your therapist will review this information with you during your first appointment.
Who is telerehab right for?
Telerehab is a convenient option for anyone looking to complete their therapy from the convenience of their own home (or office) without a commute to and from the clinic. This makes it a perfect option for:
Individuals with transportation issues
Patients who are in quarantine/self-isolation
New moms and parents with childcare issues
Patients looking to play an active role in their recovery
The vast majority of conditions we see can be treated with telerehab. While there are some limitations, our therapists can account for equipment that you may or may not have and change your plan to fit your needs.
Can you access our rehab team safely and effectively from home via telemedicine? Of course you can! The implementation of telehealth solutions for our patients is yet one more step in our mission to increase access to quality healthcare during the current pandemic. To schedule a virtual appointment, request a telerehab visit here or give our team a call at 703.433.2500.