Jeannie Campbell’s nagging hip pain while running was beginning to improve through physical therapy. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Due to health concerns, Campbell paused her visits with Stuart Johnson — a physical therapist who works out of Rebound’s East Bend Clinic — for three weeks.
During that time, “I was doing my home exercises but still having pain,” said Campbell, a Bend-based licensed marriage and family therapist who enjoys trail running.
When Campbell learned about telehealth physical therapy, she jumped at the opportunity to resume her treatment with Johnson virtually through a secure, HIPAA-compliant video-call system. Most insurance plans cover telehealth PT visits, and set-up is easy: patients receive an email with a link to their video call, which they can access via a smartphone, tablet or computer connected to wifi.
While in-office appointments are still available at all Rebound clinics, telehealth gives patients who are unable or uncomfortable coming into the clinic a convenient way to avoid a long-term gap in care that could be detrimental in their recovery.
“As physical therapists, a lot of what we offer people is education and encouragement to keep doing their exercises,” said Johnson. “These are all things we can do remotely.”
During a telehealth session, Johnson evaluates how a patient is moving, reviews their exercise program and functional activity tolerance (what they are able to do with less pain and symptoms), and offers strategies for managing their condition at home.
Telehealth also provides a unique opportunity for physical therapists to ergonomically assess and optimize a patient’s home work station, said Johnson. Just like an in-person visit, “we move, exercise and problem solve” via telehealth. “It’s not just a video chat.”
After several visits, Campbell is already seeing the benefits of resuming her PT sessions virtually with Johnson. As she gains strength through her home exercises, Johnson demonstrates more challenging exercises for Campbell to work on. He then watches her perform the new exercises on screen.
“My hip has gotten so much better through the treatment,” said Campbell, who is back to running several times a week. And periodic check-ins with Johnson via telehealth have given her motivation to stick to her treatment plan: “It’s nice to have accountability,” she said.
Offering accountability “is one of the biggest things we do as therapists,” explained Johnson.
“Sometimes, the most important things we do for patients is what we tell them. We can offer them support and encouragement to move and exercise.”
Click to learn more about Rebound’s telehealth physical therapy program.
Photo Note: Eric Edwards, a PT at Rebound’s North Clinic, converses with a patient via telehealth.