Virtual therapy can help keep injury rehabilitation on track

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Taylor Riley, PT, DPT

Recovering from bone and joint surgery or an orthopedic injury often involves rehabilitation work to help rebuild strength and range of motion, and ultimately get back to everyday activities without pain.

The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring patients to stay sheltered in place, which disrupted the “normal” course of treatment for many individuals who work with their physical and occupational therapists one-on-one and in person at one of our nine rehabilitation locations.

Just as our OrthoIllinois doctors started seeing patients via telehealth during this time, our rehab team also now offers the option of using virtual visits to keep our patients on track with their recovery.

Using virtual visits, we can show patients exercises and demonstrate movements just like we would during in-person appointments. We can do full exams and evaluations, observe them doing exercises and modify and adjust the movements, and patients can show us using their smartphone, tablet, or computer where they might be feeling pain or discomfort.

Our therapists are meticulous about observing and working with patients – again, just like we are at the clinics. We can still watch in real time while patients lift a weight over their head and stretch and move the body to improve range of motion. Using telehealth, we also can include a spouse, family member, or friend to help with stretching and other moves.

If equipment is needed for therapy, we can improvise with everyday items at home such as a rolled-up newspaper or magazine to act as a mini foam roller, cans from the pantry to act as weights, or a towel for resistance to help with stretching.

Certain patients still needed in-person rehab services based on treatment plans that require more manual techniques, and we continue to provide these services practicing social distancing and while wearing masks and sanitizing our spaces. In fact, we try to incorporate telehealth appointments and in-person visits together whenever possible.

OrthoIllinois remains an essential business per state order, and our offices recently opened back up for elective procedures following guidelines from state officials. We continue to follow enhanced safety measures and limit appointments to follow social distancing protocols.

Virtual visits are still a great option for existing and new patients who are concerned about COVID-19 and want to limit their exposure. So far, our patients have responded very well to our telehealth offering. Read about Jenny Agnew’s experience – she was my first telehealth patient, and she approached the process with a positive attitude and has done great work to stay on track with recovery from hip surgery.

We know we can’t bring our clinics to your homes, but we can work hard to replicate the rehabilitation experience to keep patients moving forward. Call us at 815-398-9491 to get started or for more information.

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