Can Physio via Telehealth really help?
In short, yes.
Telehealth isn’t new to physiotherapy. For many years, remote consults, virtual team meetings, and online rehabilitation have been utilised, particularly in rural and remote settings. Physiotherapists have understood for a long time that what happens ‘off the table’ is more important than any hands-on intervention, so telehealth is a great way to help more people.
Personally, since I started using telehealth in 2020 I have effectively worked with many clients from all over the world, including the US, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, and other parts of Australia.
In the coming months, many of you will find yourself in isolation, with or without Covid-19. It wouldn’t be unusual to notice an increase in symptoms due to stress, worry, concern, changes in your habits and increases in unhelpful coping strategies (e.g. increased alcohol and other drug use and binging behaviours). While I acknowledge that hands-on therapies can be very helpful in managing symptoms, they are not the only way a physiotherapist can help.
What can a physio provide via telehealth?
-Thorough assessment and analysis
-Triage (is physio best placed to treat, or should I see another professional?)
-A treatment management plan.
-Supported goal setting
-Advice and education about pain, movement, exercise, lifestyle etc
-Support to self-manage
-Tailored exercise rehabilitation
-Personalised exercise programs
What can’t a physio provide via telehealth?
-Hands-on treatment (though self-massage and self-release techniques can be prescribed)
What to expect during a Physio Telehealth consultation
A virtual appointment is conducted in the same way as a face to face appointment. Even without putting their hands on you, a physiotherapist can learn a lot just from the history you give, the symptoms you describe, and their observations.
You will be asked about your concerns, their impact, and your goals for treatment. Your physiotherapist will likely ask you some follow up questions before commencing an objective assessment. They may ask you to show them how you are moving, demonstrate provocative positions, and observe related areas’ range, strength, coordination, and general condition. You may have to partially disrobe for this assessment. After this assessment, your physiotherapist will describe their analysis and work with you to develop the best solution for you. This may include first-aid, pain management strategies, rehabilitation, programming and/or lifestyle modification. You can do a lot to help manage your own pain and injuries, especially with professional guidance.
Telehealth appointments aren’t just for isolation
Telehealth is an effective way of providing physiotherapy services and is useful for many cohorts eg:
- Those who appreciate the convenience of being able to access professional physiotherapy services from anywhere; home, work, on holiday etc
- People who experience difficulty being out in the community or in unfamiliar environments
- People who are ill, immunocompromised, in quarantine, or self-isolating
- Those who are unsure of the best health care professional to manage their concerns
- Those who want advice, guidance and education
- Those who want to work with a specific physio who isnt local
Rather than suffer in isolation, connect with your physiotherapist via a telehealth consultation and together come up with a plan of action.