Tele Rehab – how it works and my thoughts

Everyone is talking about Covid these days, lockdown is on everybody’s lips, not sure when things are going to be normal… and then you hear the word “New Normal”.

I guess the best way to come out of this is to live life and adapt yourself to current scenario. I have always been a big fan of “Survival of Fittest”. So, in order to survive the situation, one has to fit in the society as “if you think yourself strong, strong you will be” – Swami Vivekananda. I decided to take up the challenge and do what best I could do in this scenario.

Being a physiotherapist, which always involves hands on assessment and treating patients in person, staying at home was a dead end. The answer therefore was Tele Rehab. Although Tele Rehab has been there for long, but I personally never heard about it. To top it up, I was very skeptic on how or if it would be effective at all.

It is a type of service which involves the assessment and treatment of clients/patients remotely. Communication is passed through Internet via video conferencing, emails, apps and software. This service can be used by anyone who is not able to reach physio in person “during times of pandemic”.

Therapists can either talk over phone or give a ten minutes free consultation over video conferencing to let a client know if tele rehab would actually work for him/her.

Clients could be booked for a virtual assessment where in the physio would use his/her knowledge to assess, examine and diagnose the problem. The physio would advise appropriate exercises, do’s and don’ts and educate on the problem/condition.

It was a difficult part for me to make people understand as to how a therapist can assess patients without actually meeting in person. But eventually once I started practicing tele rehab through video conference and started using outcome measures/scale to identify their progress, it became easier both for me and patients. We use various scales on which patients grade themselves, prescribe them right exercises, do the exercises with them, send videos and also follow up to see how they have been doing.

Few things to keep in mind are:

  • Consent – a separate consent is required to start treatment under telerehabilitation.
  • Dealing with adverse situation – as tele rehab takes place remotely, a therapist should have a proper plan in place if any medical emergency arises.
  • Assistance – if any client needs assistance to carry out exercises, this should be taken into consideration.

Thus, Tele Rehab is a solution when in-person physiotherapy treatment is not possible. However final decision relies with physiotherapist if the patient should or should not be treated this way. It’s been few months now and I enjoy delivering care through this method as much as I do in person. The important thing I learnt from this is that “patient education” is a critical part of any treatment protocol as clients need to be self-dependent and understand clearly about their condition.

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