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E-Visits And Telehealth During Covid-19

The last few weeks have hit everyone like a punch to the gut.  Our world and day to day lives have been rocked in ways few of us could have imagined.  Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores with lines out the doors, and all of us attempting to limit interactions.

Social distancing has been at the center of what we are doing currently in our society.  The attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 has created a societal need for distance.  And while medical facilities and grocery stores remain open, many people are locking their doors and throwing away the key until the storm clears and the Lysol kicks in.

The reality is that during a period of time such as this, it is imperative that we move often and move well to stay healthy.  Yes, some people are tentative about leaving the house for even simple outdoor exercise.  Others are spending the vast majority of their day setting up their work station at their dining room table, perched on a barstool at the kitchen counter, or lounging with a laptop on their lap with their feet on the coffee table.  All of this to adapt to the new temporary norm of working from home.

Bottom line is…we are more home bound and we are bound to be more sedentary.  This is going to lead to more spinal pressure, stiffer joints, weaker muscles, and more pain.  This is bad enough for everyday people, but imagine all those patients that suddenly lost access to their care.  Some of whom can’t leave because they fall into higher risk categories with immune systems that are compromised or have other conditions that would lead to a higher risk of COVID-19.

Luckily, we have been hard at work for our patients.  While we are still in clinic as essential healthcare workers, we have also launched E-Visits!  These are one to one visits held through a web site (very similar to FaceTime) in the comfort of your own home.

While these visits are not a new thing in the world of healthcare, insurance companies have been finally getting their ducks in a row to allow Physical Therapists to bill them for these sorts of online visits.  They are essential to allow us to provide proper care to the abundance of patients who are unable to access their Physical Therapists currently.

All you need is a smart phone or a computer with a webcam.  The process is as quick and easy as opening your email.  But what about patients who don’t have technology that can accommodate an E-visit?  Most insurance is also permitting telephone-based visits such as telehealth which will allow your provider to give you advice and direction in your medical care over the phone.

Like every other profession that provides telehealth services, there are limitations to providing online medical services.  For most of you that have been through PT, there is typically a hands-on portion whether it be stretching, massage, or joint mobilization.  Lucky for all of us that one of the best skill sets we have as therapists is our ability to detect dysfunction, improper movement, or weaknesses without laying a set of hands on a patient.  The quality of movement speaks volumes to us about the problems going on.

Working through that assessment visually allows us to then prescribe the proper changes.  Whether stretching, strength training, specific muscle isolation and engagement, physical therapists can change those faults through a virtual medium.

During these difficult times we have to get creative in our solutions to the more complex problems challenging our lives.  For those of you with orthopedic or neurological dysfunction, don’t think that social distancing halts your care.  Allow your physical therapist to show you the difference E-Visits can make for you.

Kyle Branday, MSPT is a licensed physical therapist and partner at Amity Physical Therapy, founded fifteen years ago by Michael Dow MSPT CEO/Director with offices in Woodbridge, Hamden and Branford.  Kyle is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with his Masters in Physical Therapy.  He works with patients of all ages and ability levels, treating high level athletes with fractures and sprains to gait and balance dysfunction in the elderly.  Kyle can be reached to set up an evaluation at (203) 389-4593 or visit www.amitypt.com.

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