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Do Virtual Visits even Work for Physical Therapy?

I get this question, often, and I quite enjoy it, because I used to have a different answer than I do today. Let’s rewind. 

I got into physical therapy, and rehab, because I believed (and believe) that movement can be medicine, and that the laying of hands is an incredibly powerful tool for promoting healing. 

So when I was in grad school, and they forced us to learn about telehealth, I grumbled and groused, and espoused how it was in contrast to my values as a provider, that in person visits were superior for assessment, for hands on manual work, for exercise cueing, and on and on. 

And then the pandemic happened. 

And in person care was not only in-accessible, it was a health risk. In person visits for rehab, for PT, for anything, were no longer on the table.

My frequent assistants in my virtual sessions

So damn me if I didn’t have to adapt. So I did, I worked with clients virtually. 

And you wanna know the damnedest thing, that I had to admit, even as I missed in person time with clients, hand on work, the interactions of the clinic itself? 

Virtual sessions, and virtual care worked. My people got better.

I had to change how I planned sessions, changed how I cued set up, utilizing more self release and self care tools for clients, and guiding them through utilizing them. I had to figure out ideal camera angles to catch certain compensations.

But my people did get better. It’s a different process; I have to ask better questions of my virtual clients, because something about the screen can sometimes block that intuitive knowing of what I mean. But it’s not worse care. It’s just different. 

To this day, I still offer virtual sessions because they’re promote access, if someone’s sick, if someone’s traveling within the state, if there’s been a loss of a car, or they just can’t make it into the clinic, and they work. 

And the fact that I say that, as someone who groused and whined about them for years, indicates that 1) not only can people change, but 2) I actually believe in them because I've seen them work, time and time again.

So, if you're turned off by the idea of a virtual visit, I get it. But as a professional who works with folks through a screen and in person, they're pretty equitable.

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