Did you know that people were receiving telehealth services prior to the pandemic? Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Therapists are among the many healthcare professionals that have been providing telehealth services for many years. In fact, it has been a topic in medicine since the 90s. SInce the Pandemic, insurance companies are even starting to reimburse businesses and people for having telehealth. Countries are now investing on developing regulations, laws, and advancing technology to improve outcomes. Telehealth services are rapidly being developed and practiced across the country.
Telehealth is an important option to have. People that choose to have telehealth typically are immune compromised, live remotely, are quarantined, their state is in lock down, and have acute or chronic pain but lack access to face-to-face care. Right now, our country has a lack of access to face-to-face care due to businesses being closed, accepting fewer in person patients, or only accepting telehealth patients. Our communities are trying to comply with social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and limiting contact with other people thus affecting face-to-face care. Some of my patients' that initially declined telehealth are realizing that the pandemic is not short term and are agreeing to resume therapy via telehealth.
Eventually, face-to-face visits will thrive again however right now people have greater access to telehealth. Telehealth is the safest route to receive care, at this time. There are some diagnoses and post surgical conditions that require face-to-face therapy with the proper PPE (gloves, masks, etc.). Every patient is different, so it is important to consult with your therapist to see what your options are. Whether you are seeking care for yourself or for your child, the attached image will help you understand the differences between telehealth and face-to-face therapy visits.
Depending on your child, you may not be sure if telehealth would benefit them. It is important to understand that your therapist is trained to prepare you and your child for your session. Just as he or she would for an in person session. For instance, if your child gets distracted by the screen, there are strategies that can be used so your child doesn't see the screen. For example, you could place your device in a spot where you child can not see it or access it; however your therapist can see you and your child. In this situation, you would need bluetooth earphones or a speaker, so you could still hear the therapist. Your therapist would then watch and guide you through techniques. Your therapist may have you take breaks to watch her demonstrate, show you video clips or pictures of new things he or she wants you to try. If this is not a solution for you, the therapist can simply turn their camera off but still see you. These are just some examples, of how your therapists can help accommodate you and your child's needs.
If you are on the fence regarding telehealth, it is important to think of the outcome if you do not schedule a telehealth session and don't have access to face-to-face sessions. Is your child at risk of losing motor skills, getting contractures (muscle tightness resulting in lack of range of motion), will he or she lose strength? If you don't get therapy will your pain increase, will your motion decrease, will other muscles start to compensate resulting in poor body mechanics that could lead to more issues? If you or your child are at risk for functional decline, during this time of self isolation and quarantine, due to the pandemic; please consider reaching out to your therapist today.
Written by: Marlene Mireles PT, DPT
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