What is Virtual Physiotherapy?
Virtual Physiotherapy is the delivery of physiotherapy care remotely through the use of technology. It is also known as telerehabilitaiton, telehealth or virtual/care. Rather than a hands on physiotherapy appointment, virtual physiotherapy is an online video based physiotherapy appointment that aims to improve accessibility to the service.
Virtual Physio Treatment Service May Be Ideal If You:
- Are feeling ill or currently in self-isolation/quarantine
- Have young children to babysit at home
- Are travelling but wish to keep your treatment plan active
- Live far from the clinic but want to overcome pain and movement limitations
- Have limited time in your schedule due to work hours
- Are unable to travel to the clinic due to limited transportation options or limited mobility
- Prefer the comfort and convenience of staying at home
Here’s what you need to get started!
An Internet Connection:
it is recommended to have a minimum download speed of 5-15mbps to ensure that the video is clear and decrease the risk of data transmission issues.
Phone/Tablet or a Computer with Webcam, microphone and speakers:
A phone or tablet is an easy solution because they’ve got the camera, microphone and speakers built in, and they’re portable to move around so that we can visualise certain aspects of the assessment better. It’s easier to move around to show us different angles of movements, and show us close ups of areas like the hands and feet for assessment.
The down side of a phone or tablet is the small screen size. If you’re having difficulty seeing the exercises the physiotherapists is demonstrating or the educational information they’re providing, then a computer monitor may be a better fit for the appointment. Using a dedicated webcam can improve the quality of the video and also provide the mobility of a phone or tablet.
We send out the web link the join the appointment through email. Just click the link a few minutes before your appointment and wait for your physiotherapist to show up on the screen!
You will need to setup your video session in a private space to ensure confidentiality. Your physiotherapist may need to get your to do movements seated, lying down or standing up. Having floor space to do these movements will help us better assess your movement.
What are the Limitations to Virtual Physio?
The clear limitation to virtual physiotherapy is that we can’t perform hands-on examination, assessment, and treatment. Therefore we rely on visual observation, verbal feedback and good communication to do our physiotherapy treatment. If we feel that the patient may benefit more from an in-person appointment, we have that option available as well. Another option would be a combination of virtual and in person physiotherapy appointments.
Another limitation is that equipment is limited to what’s available at home. We understand that not everyone has a full gym with weights at home. Quite often physiotherapists recommend exercises with the use of resistance bands, foam rollers, lacrosse balls and/or weights. We are able to adapt the treatment based on what you have available at home.
There may also be some technical difficulties with using the platform. Our physiotherapist have tested our cameras and microphones on our end to make sure everything runs smoothly. Some patients may need assistance to set up the appointment.
The Virtual Physiotherapy Experience at Lift Clinic
We’ve conducted hundreds of virtual physiotherapy appointments since March 2020. We’ve helped people overcome back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain, and even achieve some personal bests in distance running!
During the virtual physio appointments, you can expect one of our physiotherapists to:
- Listen to your story and your concerns
- Ask you questions about your condition
- Assess your movement
- Provide education about your pain/condition
- Answer any question you may have about your condition
- Guide you to set realistic recovery goals
- Develop a treatment plan, and an estimated timeline of your recovery
- Prescribe home exercise program, and self-management techniques
- Refer you to other services or specialists when appropriate
- Determine whether online video appointments are appropriate for your condition, or if you would benefit more from an in-clinic appointments
How well does Virtual Physiotherapy work?
Two different systematic reviews done on telerehabilitation in 2017 reported positive outcomes with the service.
One reported telerehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions improved physical function and pain. In addition, a combined telerehabilitation with in-person care was more favorable to service users than in-person care alone.
The other review suggested that telerehabilitation physical therapy
assessment is technically feasible with good concurrent validity and excellent reliability.
The idea and use of Virtual Physiotherapy is still new and emerging. More research is currently being done on the effectiveness of it as a service. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients are choosing to use Virtual Physiotherapy as an option to continue their physiotherapy treatment.
- Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia, “PABC Physiotherapy Virtual Care Toolkit” March 2020 https://bcphysio.org/telerehabilitation/pabc-physiotherapy-virtual-care-toolkit
- World Confederation for Physical Therapy and the International Network of Physical Therapy, “WCPT/INPTRA Digital Practice Final Report” March 2020 https://world.physio/sites/default/files/2020-06/WCPT-INPTRA-Digital-Physical-Therapy-Practice-Task-force-March2020.pdf
- Cottrell, M.A., O.A. Galea, S.P. O’Leary, A.J. Hill, T.G. Russell, “Real-time telerehabilitation for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is effective and comparable to standard practice: a systematic review and metaanalysis,” Clinical Rehabilitation, 31, no. 5 (2017):625-638.
- Mani S, S. Sharma, B. Omar, A. Paungmali, L. Joseph. “Validity and reliability of Internet-based physiotherapy assessment for musculoskeletal disorders: A systematic review,” Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 23, no. 3 (2017):379-391.
Are You Still Unsure if Virtual Physiotherapy is right for you?
Contact us and one of our clinicians will get in touch with you to see to help determine if you can benefit from virtual physiotherapy!