Telehealth physical therapy consists of a physical therapy session delivered over the phone or via videoconference. This is a brand new concept in the field of physical therapy. It was approved in April 2020 for the first time ever by the insurance companies to ensure continuity of care for clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which most outpatient physical therapy clinics had to close to aid epidemiological management of this virus.
So what can we do during a telehealth session? Obviously manual therapy, ie hands-on techniques can’t happen. No freaky energetic healing over the phone or video over here either. Many clients seek physical therapy for the hands-on treatment – to get “fixed” – and initially are having some difficulty embracing telehealth PT, which requires a shift in focus.
This change in mindset is a big one, and one that long term may prove more valuable for the client than a traditional hands-on PT session. Instead of the client getting “fixed” by a PT, the PT guides the client to self-heal through many strategies, which could include but are not limited to the following: exercise program instruction/progression; guided instruction in self mobilization, myofascial release and craniosacral techniques; education on self taping; brain and neuromuscular training; instruction in use of modalities at home such as heat, ice, home TENS units, pain-relieving rubs, Epsom salts baths; arranging a drop off of orthopedic equipment or instructing the client in making a splint or sling; discussion of posture, work positioning, sleep aids, and other injury management and healing strategies. Telehealth PT enables clients to take responsibility for their own health, and gives them confidence in their ability to successfully treat themselves and heal from an injury or illness.
If you are sick and can’t come into the clinic, if you’re traveling, if you’re just busy, or if you would have to travel long distance to get here, consider a telehealth session. I usually use a HIPPA compliant telehealth platform called Doxy, but also have defaulted to Zoom and even Facetime if your Internet connection does not support Doxy. Clients are frequently a little intimidated trying telehealth the first time, and I was too! But it quickly becomes fun, easy, and empowering. Try it!