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Sharp Health News

Physical therapy goes online (video)

May 20, 2020

The “new normal” of stay-at-home orders has affected our daily routines — and that certainly applies to the medical profession. While video and phone appointments used to be an option, they now comprise the majority of doctor-patient interactions.

But what about physical therapy appointments? Isn’t the hands-on experience a requirement in rehabilitating and recovering from an injury or medical procedure?

Not so fast, says physical therapist Kendall Ederer, DPT, with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers, where clinicians now conduct video visits with patients throughout the day. This development has inspired Ederer to try creative new approaches in her physical therapy sessions.

“As a neurologic clinical specialist, I am used to being very hands-on with patients,” says Ederer. “I’ve had to learn how to be very descriptive with what I want from my patients and how I want family members to assist to achieve proper form and safety. It has forced me to be creative in using what exists in their home as equipment for exercises.”

For example, at the clinic she would instruct patients to step over half foam rollers to increase their step size. In their home, many individuals don’t have those props, so Ederer has them practice stepping over a kitchen bowl. She has also asked individuals to use mops or broom sticks instead of a dowel to retrain the upper extremities following strokes. Over time, she has become familiar with patients’ home layouts and designs appointments using different areas of the home based on the equipment in each room.

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from patients with these video visits,” says Ederer. “They are thankful for the opportunity to receive assistance when in-person physical therapy is unavailable. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel there will still be a place for telehealth visits for individuals who may have difficulty accessing care due to transportation issues.”

Watch the video above to learn more.

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