While COVID-19 may have brought many patients and healthcare providers kicking and screaming to their laptops for virtual care, it is clear that virtual care is not a fad. As of June 2020, a poll conducted by Women’s College Hospital reported that nearly half of Canadians had used virtual care such as calls, emails, videos or texts during the pandemic, with 91% of the respondents saying they were very satisfied with the experience. That is because virtual care uses technology to increase the flow of information between patients and their health care teams to improve the coordination, decision-making and ultimately, the patient’s health.
Is there a role for virtual care in rehabilitation? Absolutely! If you are connecting to a lot of work meetings or helping your kids navigate online learning, you will love the flexible times and convenience of connecting from your home. Simply gather your stretching and strengthening tools, click on the link and relax!
Can an Injury be Diagnosed Online?
Listening, not touching is the key to forming a diagnosis. The concept was known as early as 1975 when medical practitioners coined the aphorism that “a medical history determines 83% of the diagnoses”. That means your therapist’s ears- not their hands- is critical to forming an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. So, take time during your virtual session to provide a thorough medical history or injury “story”, including how the injury happened, where it hurts, what makes it worse. Whether in-person or online, the history is the most important part of your first visit.
Is Hands-on Work Needed to Heal?
No one is going to deny that it feels good to rub a sore area. But, is it necessary to heal? There’s an emerging field of “pain research” that is providing more evidence that “chronic pain” is more related to a dysfunction in the way your brain is interpreting sensation or information from an area rather than a torn/sprain tissue in the body. It’s a model that is creeping into the North American healthcare system where the therapist is an educator to empower patients to understand and manage their symptoms on their recovery journey. Unlike in-person care, virtual sessions allow the therapist to use many online tools such as videos, 3D anatomy apps to improve understanding and lifestyle apps (dietary, sleeping, activity logs) that can be used by patients to help track their progress.
Aren’t Exercises Better Done In-person?
If you’ve ever seen a photo of yourself exercising, you know why a picture is worth a thousand words. Your leg-arm-neck-core is rarely doing what you “think” or “feel” it’s doing. Don’t believe it, then hop online for a virtual session. We’ll use photos, drawing tools to highlight the areas of concern, or do video analysis to break down your movement pattern. Become your own trainer. Learn what to look for in the mirror when you’re exercising. What we have found is that it is extremely valuable to practice your exercises in the environment that you will be regularly doing them in as this increases compliance by empowering you. By the end of your virtual rehab session, you will be ready to incorporate your exercise program into everyday life.
So, the question is why aren’t you using virtual technology available today to jumpstart your rehabilitation therapy?