Is Virtual Physiotherapy For Me?
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, many physiotherapists were forced to adapt by offering virtual physiotherapy services. This may seem strange as traditionally, people view physio as a hands-on service (therapists included!), but success with this form of treatment came as a pleasant surprise. Some research shows that patient satisfaction scores were actually higher with virtual care than in-person care!
What does a virtual physiotherapy appointment look like?
During a physiotherapy assessment, the information you provide gives the therapist a deep understanding of your pain problem and how it is impacting your daily life. Things like what time of day is worse, what movements or positions aggravate or ease symptoms, and the location and type of pain experienced all provide the therapist with pieces of the puzzle, which will be used to guide a treatment plan. The other important piece to this puzzle is your goals – what do you want to be able to do? This may be a certain activity, or it may be to gain knowledge and tools to manage persistent pain, or both!
An objective assessment can also be done virtually. We can look at how you move your limbs, walk, sit, and balance. With the unique opportunity of virtual appointments, we can problem solve issues you are experiencing in your home.
How do you treat someone virtually?
- Education is a large part of any physiotherapy treatment. This can include:
- Knowledge of a pain problem: Why is there pain? What affects pain? What can I do about it?
- Ergonomics (positioning, posture, lifting techniques, etc). This may be for work or home and can be an important part of managing pain
- Sleep habits and positioning
- Pacing strategies
- Self treatment techniques: Trigger point release/self massage, breathing techniques, stretching
- Movement is Medicine
- Bodies were meant to move, but this can be challenging when you are in pain. Luckily, there are many ways to move, sometimes we just need to get a little creative. This is where physiotherapists and exercise therapists can work with you to help get you moving more comfortably
Is this effective?
Virtual care has been shown to be equally as effective as in-person care for the management of many conditions, including low back pain and osteoarthritis
Am I missing out on any benefits of in-person care?
Your physiotherapist will discuss your needs and do an initial screening assessment to determine if your specific situation is appropriate for telerehabilitation. If the therapist decides that you would benefit from hands on physiotherapy, you may be referred to the team’s local physiotherapist.
There may be barriers or reasons that virtual treatment sessions will not work well for you such as:
- Are you comfortable using technology?
- Do you have access to the resources needed such as internet, computers, tablets, or smartphones?
- Are there any visual, hearing, or other mobility challenges that would limit your ability to participate in a virtual appointment?
- If required, do you have a caregiver who can participate in the sessions with you to provide assistance, perform some treatments with the physiotherapist’s guidance or ensure your safety as you perform exercises or activities?