Online physio, virtual physio and telehealth are all terms that have been used to try and describe what Physios like my team and I have been offering since the country’s lockdown in March this year.
It’s not quite true to say its been since Lockdown, as we were using this service with a number of patients pre the Covid Pandemic.
What is true, is that since that time, both the NHS and private sectors have been ‘forced’ into adopting telehealth much more widely. For Physiotherapists in the private sector like us, it was our only way of earning a living during the months between March and June when many clinics re-opened (in a fashion).
For the NHS Physio departments it was either phone or video calls (telehealth) or an explosion of their already lengthy waiting lists. I have heard that a number of departments have simply cut their waiting lists entirely (as in they exist no more). I can’t quite fathom how they’ve done that but that’s what I’m being told!
In any event, all Physiotherapists have been put in a position where we have had to find out very quickly what can and what can’t be done via a virtual call.
What are the challenges?
The most obvious challenges to the patient are the need for a good quality internet connection and hardware to enable the session to take place. There can be issues with computer literacy, although to stick up for patients for a minute, I’ve had online sessions with more computer literate Octogenarians than some of the physios I’ve talked to!
From a physio point of view, we can’t ‘feel’ the problem and having to rely on the patient to provide more feedback and information can be a physio control freaks worst nightmare.
What are the advantages?
There are obvious benefits to virtual sessions. It cuts travel time for those patients who have restrictive time commitments or want to access expertise but live a prohibitive distance away. Costs can often be lower for the patient, than face to face sessions. In the current Covid-19 circumstances, it enables patients to access Physiotherapy advice and treatment despite shielding.
Take Away Message
I’ll be honest, not one of our team have at any point said to me, “wouldn’t it be great if we could see all our patients through virtual physio”.
We came into this job in the knowledge that touch can and probably should be used as part of both diagnosis and treatment. Touch just like the spoken word can be therapeutic. We have spent years of our lives expanding and refining our manual therapy skills, to be able to provide us with the best possible body feedback and you the patient with the best possible treatment.
In a perfect world we would probably like to see most of our patients face to face. At present, that just isn’t possible. We don’t have the time to see everyone when they want to be seen. The numbers of patients trying to book in with us are high. In addition, due to increased Covid cleaning and airing regimes, we just physically can’t see as many patients as we could pre-Covid.
For some of you, virtual physio is literally the perfect choice for accessing Head2Toe Physiotherapy. So if you’re socially distancing, shielding, living miles away but want to seek our assessment and treatment at a distance, avoiding public transport and without a car………then pick up the phone and book a virtual session!
If you or anyone you know is suffering from Achilles or ankle pain and would like to have a physiotherapy assessment with the team at Dorking , Leatherhead or Crawley , contact us here.