Remote physical therapy is one of the most popular types of telemedicine. Instead of visiting the therapist’s office for treatment, you carry out exercise and rehabilitation programs in your home. The therapist designs a treatment program and interacts with you during appointments over a remote video connection. They make sure you follow the program, monitoring your progress, and making changes as required.
For many remote physical therapy sessions, all you need is a laptop and a webcam. More advanced programs use augmented reality, virtual therapists, and 3D tracking technology to monitor sessions and provide feedback and coaching.
Remote PT isn’t the best option for every patient, so it’s essential to consider the pros and cons before deciding on your treatment.
The Pros of Remote Physical Therapy
Let’s look at some of the reasons remote PT has become so popular in recent years.
- It may be less expensive than in-office physical therapy. Insurance co-pays are typically lower for remote treatments, making remote physical therapy an excellent option if cost is a concern.
- Improved access to physical therapy. Patients often fail to complete physical therapy when it is difficult for them to attend the therapist’s office.
- Reduced risk of infection. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, remote physical therapy helped vulnerable people get the treatment they need without increasing infection risk. The people who are most likely to need physical therapy are also the most vulnerable to COVID-19, including those with post-operative conditions, disabilities, and the elderly.
The positives of remote physical therapy have made it an attractive option for many, but there are potential drawbacks as with any treatment.
The Cons of Remote Physical Therapy
Remote physical therapy isn’t suitable for everyone. Manual therapy may be an essential part of your treatment, and that requires physical contact. Other limitations of remote physical therapy include:
- You may need to see a therapist in person from time to time. Depending on your condition’s type and complexity, you may need in-person visits to the therapist’s office at the beginning of your program and intervals throughout.
- Lack of space. Some physical therapy programs don’t need much space: you can do them from a chair. But others may need enough room to stand up and move around or even to lie down.
- The challenges of technology. For the most part, the technology involved in remote physical therapy is no more complicated than a standard video chat. However, some patients may not have the technical ability to set up webcams, use the software, or troubleshoot connection issues.
We’ve covered some of the most prominent pros and cons of remote physical therapy, but if you think it might be the right option for your treatment, ask your physician or therapist for advice. They will be able to provide guidance about its suitability in your unique situation.
About the Author: Aaron Goldsmith is the owner of Transfer Master, a company that has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. He started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. 25 years later, his customers are still at the center of everything he does. For more information, be sure to visit transfermaster.com or contact the team via email.