Virtual physical therapy as a solution for our times

As fall arrives, I look forward to new rhythms and routines. This fall will give us the spectacular foliage and beautiful, crisp mornings and evenings. It will also give those of us in medical fields an ongoing opportunity to hone our virtual care skills.

As a physical therapist, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside all of you in revolutionizing Canadian health care. Virtual care was at the core of this sea change. Having a direct virtual connection with clients has let us offer continuity of care in a safe environment. Virtual care means less travel time and less PPE with the same or better outcomes for clients.

Virtual care platforms are easy to use with a similar treatment style to an in-person visit. A typical physical therapy visit will involve a subjective history and physical assessment of the injury or issue, as well as treatment. Physical therapists can adapt assessment and treatment skills to the home easily. Simple instructions using sundry items around the home are often enough to build a treatment plan. Through video, a skilled physical therapist can teach or lead a client through a series of movements, including how to palpate, do joint mobilizations, and exercise.

The learning curve of moving from in-person to online treatment can feel steep but it is a short curve. Within a few days, most of our treatment team became adept and comfortable working online. More computer time does create fatigue for those of us who are not used to this technology-driven world. Prioritize good self-care through healthy sleep, nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, and safe social contact outside of work.

Creativity in your physical work environment is vital as well. The surface you sit on and adjustable desks and screens can help. These are simple methods to reduce overall fatigue.

If you are new to accessing virtual allied health care services for your patients, you may wonder where to look. Lumino Health is one resource through which you may find a qualified health-care provider who offers virtual care. You can see which providers offer virtual care and find ratings, the latest cost information, and more. Appointment requests and booking are available directly from many profiles.

As we go forward, virtual care will continue to be key to effective, safe care. It will help clients access the skills and knowledge of health professionals with ease across all streams of medicine. Virtual care is producing positive outcomes on overall health for our clients, families, and communities.
—Krista Clarke

This post has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Ms Clarke has been a physiotherapist with CBI Health in Duncan, British Columbia, for 17 years, and is featured on the Lumino Health website as a physiotherapist. CBI Health pays a subscription to Sun Life (the owner of Lumino) to sponsor some of the profiles for their health-care providers on Lumino Health. Ms Clark received no remuneration for this post.

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