Virtual physical therapy has quickly moved from a niche offering to the mainstream. At Girl Fit Physical Therapy, we spent mid-March through the end of June providing all Telehealth physical therapy services to our patients and saw some amazing progress from our patients. We are now offering both in-person and Telehealth physical therapy and wellness visits. Having more options is great, but we understand that it might be difficult to decide which path is best for you. However, the good thing is you don’t have to choose just one! There is currently no insurance or administrative issue with switching between in-person and Telehealth physical therapy services. Also, many insurance companies are continuing to waive patient copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for Telehealth services. Having an understanding of the benefits of both types of care can help you and your therapist decide which one would best help you meet your goals during each stage of your rehabilitation.
The main advantage of traditional “brick and mortar” PT is that the therapist is in the room with you. That means they can easily move around to see how you’re moving from different angles, physically adjust your position or movement as you exercise, and physically examine you. They can also perform manual therapy, Graston Technique, trigger point dry needling, and cupping when you’re in the clinic. In person PT may work best for:
● New patients – the ability to physically examine you can make it easier for your PT to diagnose what’s going on
● Less active patients – if you’re not used to exercising and moving, having someone physically present to coach you along can be a big benefit
● People with complicated or chronic conditions – if your back has been hurting for the last 5 years and you’ve been ignoring it, providing a diagnosis and treating it totally virtually can be more difficult for your PT
● Less motivated patients – virtual PT requires you to do most of your exercises by yourself with the guidance of your PT virtually. If you feel like you need more physical cuing or are more motivated face to face, in person PT might work better for you
To learn about our safety practices for in person visits at Girl Fit check our recent blog post, Maintaining a Safe Environment for Girl Fit Patients and Staff.
Virtual Physical Therapy
The main benefit of virtual PT is convenience and, of course, safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that you don’t have to travel to the clinic also makes it easier to squeeze a visit into a busy schedule. Virtual PT works well for:
● Athletes and others with good body awareness – performing your exercises without physical cuing is easier if you are in tune with your body and how it’s moving
● People with common athletic injuries – things like tendonitis, sprains, strains, patellofemoral pain (PFPS), Osgood Schlatter Syndrome, Sever’s Disease, plantar fasciitis, and shoulder impingement to name a few. These commonly treated injuries can be more easily adapted to virtual care
● People who are comfortable with technology – you don’t have to be a technology whiz, but having some familiarity with skype, facetime, or zoom helps! We utilize ZOOM for Healthcare which is fully HIPAA compliant, secure, and easy. You will receive a link directly from our electronic medical record company, Web PT, prior to your appointment. Just make sure to have some space to move around and a good internet connection. Your physical therapist can help you determine what equipment, like exercise bands, might be helpful to perform your exercises at home. We can even help you get creative and turn common household items into weights, stretch straps, etc.
● Existing and returning patients – if your physical therapist already knows you, it can be easier to treat you virtually
Both options have benefits and limitations. One or the other might be right for you and your needs, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Combining the two can work well for many people. Doing an in person visit for your initial evaluation and perhaps a follow up visit or two will let your therapist provide an accurate diagnosis and get you started on your exercise program. Once you’re comfortable with your exercise program, you can transition to virtual visits. We’re excited to work together to find the plan that works best for you.