Telerehabilitation - also known as telephysiotherapy - allows healthcare professionals to treat patients even if they are not physically in the same place.
This is a discipline which has been discussed in depth recently, especially since the COVID pandemic, and one that has been debated fiercely amongst physiotherapy professionals.
So, what is it and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look…
Telerehabilitation is part of the telehealth revolution, a concept which was first described in 1997 by the World Health Organisation as “the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration”.
By definition, telerehabilitation is the provision of physiotherapeutic care remotely through information technology, without the patient and provider having to meet face-to-face.
Although telehealth has been around in one form or another for many years, it was the global COVID pandemic that really brought it to the fore. The following graph shows the sharp increase in telehealth encounters in the USA from 2019 to 2020.
Lockdowns and quarantine forced healthcare to change, and this included the discipline of physiotherapy. If telehealth was once the reserve of isolated communities, it has now cemented itself in the general consciousness as something which is here to stay.
Although many doctors, nurses and specialists do not necessarily need direct contact with patients, there are some healthcare professionals who, it would seem, benefit from being able to observe and manipulate patients with direct contact. Physiotherapists can be included in this latter category and, without doubt, practicing telehealth can be complicated.
Is it really possible to conduct rehabilitation without being able to touch the patient?
Well, there have been studies published which suggest that remote physiotherapy is not only possible, but even brings some benefits to the table. Acceptance, however, has been slow and comes with many reservations.
On the one hand, there are strict professional standards of care in place that cover the provision of telerehabilitation. This means that patients get the best possible care digitally.
But, on the other hand, the very fact that telerehabilitation is contactless means that diagnosis and treatment may be limited in some cases.
We’ve split this section into the three distinct phases proposed by Australian physiotherapist Karen Finnin, an expert and entrepreneur in the field of telemedicine, who has developed a system for remote physiotherapy consultations.
First the patient should complete an evaluation form, providing information about their condition. The design of this document is extremely important, allowing the consultant to collect all pertinent information before starting treatment.
The physiotherapist receives this document and, using the information given by the patient, shapes follow up questions in order to have enough information to make a probable diagnosis.
The patient and consultant make first direct contact via video call. Using all the previously collected information, the physio conducts an interview, searching for relevant information which may have previously been hidden. A visual assessment can also be made at this point.
A diagnosis is then made, using all the information collected up to this point, and a report is drawn up which includes a proposed treatment. The patient receives the report as well and a series of rehabilitation sessions are scheduled. This schedule will also include future assessment sessions in order to follow up the treatment.
The physiotherapist can then decide the level of relationship that needs to be maintained with the patient.
They may take a step back, simply sending a list of exercises and timetable for doing them. In this case, a follow up video call will be scheduled for a later date once the proposed treatment has been completed.
On the other hand, the physio may decide that they need to be more hands-on and schedule a series of video calls so that they can check that the patient is completing the proposed exercises correctly, as well as giving live instructions.
If this is the case, the physiotherapist may record the live sessions in order to provide the patient with feedback which is 100% objective.
Usually, the incorporation of digital media and information technology into any process brings nothing but benefits. However, in the field of telerehabilitation, there are some major drawbacks for both the patient and the consultant.
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons…
Our range of video feedback products are an ideal resource for monitoring and improving the practice of telerehabilitation. The use of Codimg benefits both physiotherapists and patients.
How? Let’s take a look…
Codimg has been used as part of a pioneering project at the Faculty of Physiotherapy at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Academic researchers, Raquel Medina, Marlene García and Irene García, designed an observation system with Codimg. This was designed to analyse how physiotherapists interacted with their patients and, based on the evidence provided by video images and data, propose improvements for the future.
As can be seen in this video, Codimg allows them to collect information and present it quickly, significantly reducing the time between observation and feedback.
In addition, a library of video clips is created. This library can then be used to highlight, with the proper consent, good and bad practice, or treatments for patients with similar ailments.
The use of Codimg also brings notable benefits for patients.
When performing exercises that are part of the treatment plan, the patient can watch video clips that have already been created by the physio. These provide a clear guide on how to do the exercises correctly.
In addition, consultation sessions can be recorded which the physio can review at a later time, identify problems with how the patient is doing the exercises, and provide feedback to the patient, correcting the problems. Using video to provide the feedback is much more effective than long-winded explanations.
If sessions are recorded and analysed with Codimg, the patient can see for themselves how their treatment and recovery are progressing.
These are just a few benefits of using Codimg for the analysis of remote physiotherapy…but there’s much more to it than this. Our video feedback solutions work for you, making telerehabilitation more efficient, more productive and, in short, more professional.
If you’re interested in getting to know Codimg better, we offer a session with one of our experts and a 30-day free trial with no obligation to buy.
Simply fill out the form on our website and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.
Holistic nursing can’t really be described as a new trend. Afterall, the founder of modern nur...
Breaking bad news to patients is not always a skill that comes naturally to healthcare professionals...
And the healthcare sector is no different. For a few years now, the concept of Lean Healthcare has g...