What does a Bonsai, TELEHEALTH, and Physical Therapy have in common? Well, let me tell you!
About 2 months ago, our faithful bonsai mascot in our reception area began to drop its leaves. This wasn’t really surprising because bonsai’s do this occasionally. It is usually just them vying for attention. (yes, they are like children to me!)
This particular bonsai has been with us since the very beginning and has had a prominent spot at the front of the office. I decided it needed some sunshine and a change of scenery, so I put it in one of our many windows to get some sun.
A few weeks after this is when the COVID-19 pandemic really started. With all the chaos and scrambling to figure things out, the poor little bonsai was not tended to like it should have been.
One day, passing by the window, I noticed it had dropped ALL of its leaves! ( I was going to joke that it had caught the coronavirus, but that probably wouldn’t have been a great joke right now.)
An interesting thing though…it had some new sprouts coming out of the bottom. It was STILL ALIVE, just struggling.
Now, what does that have to do with Telehealth and my clinic?
Ever since the COVID-19 crisis reared its head, our clinic has been seeing an increase in the number of patients we can’t attend therapy. This is for a number of reasons.
We have been advising some of our older patients to not come in because of the risk of them getting sick. Others are immunocompromised or have someone in their family who is and can’t risk leaving their home.
Some of our patients are quarantined or are trying to practice as much social distancing as they can.
Just like the bonsai, our clinic started to struggle. We haven’t dropped our leaves yet, but the changes are definitely affecting us.
Then came the New Shoots!
As we struggled to find ways to get people the care they need while also keeping them safe, we dove deep into the pool of Telehealth.
A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought we could do quality Physical Therapy over video. I just didn’t think we would be able to do enough, and we certainly couldn’t do hands on therapy. Manual therapy is a huge part of our practice and I couldn’t see as much benefit without it.
Having the majority of our patients cancel their appointments really strong armed me into trying it out. I was somewhat reluctant in the beginning, but what other choice did we have.
We have now done over 30 Telehealth appointments, and I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The new shoots on our business began to grow and have helped to keep us alive!
There are many benefits I have found for Telehealth with Physical Therapy. Here are just a few!
We have been able to stay in contact with patients who still need help.
Aches and pains don’t just go away because we are quarantined or social distancing.
Home Exercise Programs have improved.
In the past, I have relied on patients setting up their home exercise program and figuring out what to use at home. NOW, a really cool thing has happened! I can be “in” their home and see how they are doing them.
This is especially important for my scoliosis patients. Their setup is more complex and it has been helpful to see what they are doing.
Follow through and accountability have improved!
One of the big struggles as a Physical Therapist is getting my patients to do their exercises on their own. Doing video calls have improved my ability to follow up with patients on their exercises.
Accountability with exercises has also improved since we have our patients do the exercises while we are on the call with them.
Good Social Interaction while Social Distancing.
Many of our patients are stuck at home and not associating with others as much. Doing Telehealth allows us to connect with them.
While social distancing is beneficial to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is not helpful for our mental and physical health. Telehealth has helped us to bring some interaction with others and lift their spirits.
We can still help with most problems!
Contrary to what I thought before, most of the things we normally would be treating can still be treated effectively through technology.
Back pain, scoliosis, shoulder pain, and all other aches and pains don’t take a break during this time. With the pace of life being slower for most of us, this gives us all a window of time to work on those things we may have been putting off.
Really, the biggest benefit I have seen with Telehealth is that I can still provide care for those in need of it. As a Physical Therapist, the reason I got into this profession is to help those in pain and with other problems. Getting people back to life and meet their goals is my I do what I do.
Stuck At Home?
We plan to offer telehealth long term as an option for those who can’t make it to my clinic, but for right now it is what will help us survive.
I sincerely appreciate all those who have supported us in the past and who currently support my clinic. We have the most amazing patients and we appreciate you all.
Our staff have been constantly working to keep the clinic sterilized and clean. We have an awesome team right now and I am so proud of their hard work. They are truly amazing!
Align Therapy will weather this storm and will be here for you throughout the whole crazy process! We are here to support YOU in meeting your goals.
David Butler, Physical Therapy