The past couple of weeks have been super challenging. Can I get an "AMEN?"
We are in the thick of it. Modifying, Growing and Learning. This is not easy for anyone. Businesses, schools, gyms, trainers, teams, coaches, restaurants, cities, hospitals, medical professionals, families are all having to figure out how to still get things done with the current pandemic of Covid-19/Coronavirus. Life is temporarily altered.
We had to ask ourselves (real quick btw) -How can we continue to deliver amazing patient care if we need to social distance? What can we do to protect our patients who have been told to stay in their homes and also make sure they keep moving.
The answer is TELEHEALTH.
Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. Telehealth is not for everyone. Most people prefer contact. The idea of doing a physical therapy session at home seems a bit absurd at first. But it is an alternative and IT WORKS? But how?
Throughout the world- Telehealth services were already being offered by medical professionals prior to this pandemic. There are many people in the world who do not have access to get to a healthcare provider due to their location. There are also many people who do not want to leave their homes due to illness or preference. Medical providers have been tapping into that space and filling the gap for patients who need it. Also-some things don't warrant an in person visit. A phone call to your physician for guidance regarding a concern may save a trip to the hospital. Seems pretty convenient right!
So how does it work with physical therapy? Well....if you have had physical therapy before you know that our primary goal is to get you moving. We watch how you move. Teach you how to move better. And get you stronger. Yes- many times that involves hands on manual therapy. If you are in pain we like to feel where it is, and work on the joints or tissue as needed. But if we can not do that we are not just going to throw the baby out with the bath water right? RIGHT.
We need to keep moving. Period. Movement is Medicine. If we can see what your doing, then we can teach you how to move better and get strong.
So how are we doing this? At our clinic we are using a platform called Google Hangout/Meet. It is HIPPA (privacy) protected and we use Google as our platform for documentation and email. Through Google Hangouts we can video conference with our patients and do a COMPLETE exercise session while they get to stay in the comfort of their homes. Sounds nice right?
Here's what we like:
1. Telehealth is a nice way to get a look into what a patient may have within their home to successfully complete an exercise routine and give them ideas regarding use of an area within there home to create a "movement space" and develop a routine that they can keep up with. Essentially- we are better able to teach you how to do exercises at home with the things you have If, you don't have things you need- we can advise on what you should get. We are essentially setting you up with a home gym. Cool right?
2. IT IS FUN!! Helping patients maneuver through the challenge of setting up the camera, having kids or animals walk in front of the camera and an occasional glimpse of the "real" family life, getting our patients families involved has been pretty cool. It has allowed us to get to know our patients in a way we that could have not have been possible through the lens of outpatient physical therapy.
3. Creativity. Telehealth is pushing us to be creative with our programming of exercises. The biggest question is: what does the patient have at home? Dumbells? Great!, Kettlebells? Cool!, Resistnace Bands? Sweet!! But there are patients that have little to no exercise equipment in there homes or apartments, now there is the challenge we like! Let grab water bottles and use them as dumbbells, grab broom sticks to use them for ROM drills. Chairs, couches, step stools and towels are all free range for us to use and to be able to successfully program and challenge our patients capacity.
1. We don't have the "POWER OF TOUCH". Touch doesn't only mean "Manual Therapy" but it can mean giving a tactile cue to correct posture during an exercise, make a correction about there movement or increase input to an area to enhance that exercise. Touch is also one of the best ways to encourage a patient, like with a high five or pat on the back, and it can be used to show empathy and understanding in the form of a hug or hand on the shoulder. Touch is one of the best tools PT's have in order to engage with and form a bond with their patients.
2. Also -Accessilbility to equipment and/or resources can be challenging. However, it has challenged us to be creative as states above.
Even though we would much rather see our patients, we recognize right now we want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. So here we are. Driving solutions!
If you are a patient of ours and you are not yet set up with Telehealth visits- we HIGHLY encourage you to get set up. As much as we would like this to be a very short and temporary solution, we believe that the state of our situation will not change for at least 4-8 weeks minimum. We do not want you to lose what you have thus far gained with your rehabilitation. Try a session- I promise you will be quite surprised at how much you like it.
If you are looking for physical therapy treatment during this time and want to get set up with a Telehealth evaluation, contact us ASAP! We are taking new patients at this time.
Whatever you do....KEEP MOVING friends. The worst thing you can do is stop.
We are here for you,
Dr.Brown & Dr. P