by Shirin Davarpanah Jazi, PhD, MScPT
Being a virtual physiotherapist for the past few years has taught me a lot on the values of a virtual physiotherapy or telerehab. There are 4Ws (the What, When, Who and Why) about virtual physiotherapy that I will discuss.
WHAT is virtual physiotherapy?
It is when you see a physiotherapist online from the comfort of your home or any other place than the physiotherapy clinic. Basically, you complete your session without any in-person interaction with a physiotherapist. It all happens through an online platform.
WHEN is virtual physiotherapy useful?
- When sick: There is a high chance that you or your physiotherapist must cancel a session when either of you are sick and cannot go to the clinic. This has especially been the case during the past few years. With virtual physiotherapy you can attend a physiotherapy session while staying at home. As long as you are physically well enough to take the session.
- When too far: There are times when you move homes, or you would like to attend a certain clinic that specializes in a certain area but is far from your home or the closest clinic to your home is a couple of hours drive away. Thus, the commute is too far and continuing with the same clinic is not sustainable. In such cases, it might be worth trying to connect virtually and continue your rehabilitation journey with the physiotherapist of your choice.
- When there is traffic: If you would like to attend your physio but your availability is usually during rush hour, or you don’t have a big opening throughout your day to make the trip to the clinic you can cut down on travel time by taking the session virtually.
- When no means of transport: Some patients do not own a car and taking the public transit to get to certain areas of the city is time consuming. Therefore, a good option might be virtual physiotherapy.
- When on vacation or trip: It is very common to pause the rehabilitation journey when the physiotherapist or patient take a vacation or need to go on a trip. During these times virtual physiotherapy can be a great tool to keep everyone on track about how things are going.
- When in the maintenance phase of recovery: As a physiotherapist, it is important to provide your clients with self-management tools that they can use in the long term. Slowly transitioning into a virtual mode of care is a good exercise to help patients become more independent with their rehabilitation.
Regardless of all that was mentioned, some individuals just prefer to stay at home and take their sessions virtually. It is their personal preference, and they just get more benefit out of it.