Healing from injury, illness and disease takes time, and physical therapists are there every step through recovery. The work they do demands care and consideration for each patient, and it adapts to any scenario — even COVID-19.
With creative responses including in-home care, telehealth and new approaches to traditional-clinic delivery, licensed providers work with patients to speed healing even as they work to slow the pandemic.
“We will continue to do our part to serve our communities and meet the needs of our patients,” said Chief Clinical Officer Craig O’Neil in a letter to patients of Nashville-based Results Physiotherapy. “Our therapists are still able to provide care to all current patients and evaluate any new patients.”
Exploring the frontier of tele-physical therapy
Though Results Physiotherapy serves patients in nine different states, its swift response helps patients find their footing on the changing landscape around COVID-19, no matter where they are.
The team of physical therapists — with help from supporting teams across the organization — were able to provide care through telehealth within 48 hours of the initial lockdowns, before it was even clear payers would reimburse them for the practice. Their goal was simply to continue to provide easy access to patients; so they had to come up with a creative way to see the patient in their environment.
Virtual therapy through telehealth lets the patient visit one-on-one with a licensed physical therapist over a laptop, phone or tablet. Just like a clinic visit, the provider assesses the patient’s range of motion, demonstrates exercises and educates the patient to provide treatment and support recovery.
According to Results Physiotherapy, the group offered 20,000 telehealth visits in April alone.
Stay home, get well
Telehealth is not right for every case, and for some patients, hands-on benefits of physical therapy are impossible to replace online. That’s why physical therapy house calls are familiar to some and becoming more familiar to others.
Results Physiotherapy offers a concierge physical therapy program to provide patients the care they rely on without visiting the clinic. According to O’Neil, “This will allow patients to be treated in the safety and comfort of their own home while continuing their PT journey to live without pain.”
During a pandemic, limiting exposure and reducing clinic visits demands added protection for both provider and patient. “Our team is also following the CDC-recommended guidelines for precautions and safety including screening each individual patient during home treatments,” O’Neil added.
This means both patient and physical therapist wear masks and undergo routine screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, along with other protective steps.
Face-to-face with the future
As the spread of coronavirus slows, providers better understand how to offer physical therapy services more safely.
While telehealth and in-home care remain available for those hesitant to visit clinics — especially those at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 — physical therapists look to clinic-based care that better prevents the spread of contagious disease while allowing patients to continue therapy.
According to Results Physiotherapy, some steps to protect patients and staff are procedural — more rigorous cleaning routines, scheduling changes and waiting-room processes that encourage distancing and virtual payment processing to limit unnecessary contact.
Others play out during the therapy session, like screening procedures, personal protective equipment and greater distancing whenever possible.
The face of physical therapy might look different behind masks or face shields, and hands-on care might require more infection control procedures. Still, neither a pandemic nor the barriers to prevent its spread can come between patients and the care of a skilled physical therapist.
“Our primary goal is the well-being of our patients,” said O’Neil. “Whether you prefer one-to-one care through a video visit or in-person, hands-on care in your home, we believe that our team will be able to continue to help you get back to doing the things you love, pain-free, as we continue to keep your safety a priority.”
It will take time to adjust to a post-COVID world, and some things will never be the same. But healing is at the heart of physical therapy, and that’s something that will never change.
Recognized as one of the highest-quality physical therapy organizations in the nation, Results Physiotherapy successfully treats a wide range musculoskeletal conditions as well as all common post-surgical rehabilitation. For information about Results Physiotherapy, go to resultspt.com.