With COVID-19 virus guidelines encouraging people to stay home whenever possible, patients in need of physical or occupational therapy now have the option to do just that.
Drayer Physical Therapy, with offices in Bedford, Roaring Spring and Somerset among its 13 locations, is finding that it’s a useful alternative for some patients.
Like telemedicine, teletherapy has filled a niche during the virus concerns. But unlike teletherapy, which has been around for a while, stay-at-home therapy is new.
“It’s something to try to minimize (patients’) exposure,” said Lacie Cumo, director of the Bedford clinic who also is a physical therapist.
Telehealth physical therapy is simply physical therapy services that are provided over a technology platform, instead of in a clinic. Utilizing video conferencing through a computer, tablet, or smartphone, a licensed physical therapist will work one-on-one with you to assess the patient’s condition and provide real-time feedback. Therapists can also provide modifications and recommendations on current programs and exercises, and continue therapy without disruption or regression.
Bedford’s clinic remains open for patients to use “if they want that hands-on treatment to continue,” Cumo said. She aid some are receiving “hybrid” therapy, with perhaps one visit a week to the clinic and two more at home.
The clinic is receiving referrals from physicians who are limiting the number of patients they see in person, she said. The physician will send a referral and instructions for treatment.
Doing physical therapy at home, where there is unlikely to be any proper equipment, is a challenge, Cumo said.
“They’ve gotten very creative,” Cumo said. “They’re using soup cans, anything they can find. A mop handle with buckets on the end as a bar.”
The impromptu equipment is not a safety concern, she said, because the therapist can see what’s happening.
Some of the benefits, according to a news release from Drayer, include:
• • Provides an option for patients looking to take extra precautions during this time of time of change and uncertainty.
• Allows patients to participate in their physical therapy treatment from the comfort of their own home.
• Can be used to complement your in-clinic treatment plan.
• Quick access to care with no office wait.
• Diagnosis, consultation, education and care management of their current condition.
• Minimizes requirement to travel to a physical therapy clinic.
• Telehealth PT also allows patients who live in a rural or far-away location to get quality care right at home.
• Gives patients greater freedom to schedule appointments that meet their own specific schedules.
“We had kind of slow rollout,” Cumo said, and because it was new there was some hesitation. But “once they get that initial visit under their belt they feel much more comfortable.”
Another advantage, she said, is the one-on-one counseling that the format provides. Patients are able to ask questions directly, and “for many it’s been a real source of education.”
Most major insurers are covering teletherapy services. For those whose insurance is not covering the service, Drayer is offering a special rate that keeps the charge at the patient’s normal co-pay.