By: Dr. Amanda T. Brewer, PT | November 15, 2020
Virtual physical therapy has quickly moved from a niche offering to the mainstream. Having more options is great, but it can also complicate decision making. Having an understanding of the benefits of both can help make clear which one would best help you meet your goals.
IN PERSON PHYSICAL THERAPY
The main advantage of traditional “brick and mortar” PT is that the therapist is in the room with you. That means they can move around to see how you’re moving from different angles, physically adjust your position or movement as you exercise, and physically examine you – testing your strength, measuring your range of motion, etc. They can also use things like manual therapy, trigger point dry needling, or laser therapy when you’re in the clinic. In person PT may work best for:
- New patients – the ability to physically examine you makes it easier for your PT to accurately diagnose what’s going on
- Less active patients – if you’re not used to exercising and moving, having someone physically present to coach you along can be a big benefit
- People with complicated or chronic conditions – if your back has been hurting for the last 5 years and you’ve been ignoring it, providing a diagnosis and treating it totally virtually maybe difficult for your PT but your PT will inform you of any additional needs that are specific to your symptoms and condition
VIRTUAL PHYSICAL THERAPY
The main benefit of virtual PT is convenience. Because virtual PT relies on you doing most of your exercise and treatment on your own, appointments can be shorter. The fact that you don’t have to travel to the clinic makes it easier to squeeze a visit into a busy schedule. Staying at home and participating in Telehealth PT sessions can also reduce your exposure to illness related viruses. Virtual PT works well for:
- Athletes and others with good body awareness – being on your own for your home exercise program requires you to be in tune with your body and how it’s moving
- People with common athletic injuries – things like tendonitis, sprains, strains, plantar fasciitis, and overuse injuries are commonly treated by PTs. Because of that, there is a template for treatment that is easily adapted to individual needs.
- People who are comfortable with technology – you don’t have to be a technology whiz, but having some familiarity with skype, facetime, or zoom helps!
- Existing and returning patients – if your physical therapist knows you, it’s easier to treat you virtually.
- People with dysfunction who mainly benefit from strengthening and stretching programs combined with functional activity training typically do well with Telehealth based PT.
- People who suffer from urinary incontinence dysfunction can easily receive their Physical Therapy virtually.
Both options have benefits and limitations. One or the other might be right for you and your needs, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Combining the two can work well for many people. Doing an in person visit for your initial evaluation and perhaps a follow up visit or two will let your therapist provide an accurate diagnosis and get you started on your rehabilitation program. Once you’re comfortable with your exercise program, many patients can transition to virtual visits. To learn more about Telehealth at Brewer Physical Therapy, go HERE.
“Virtual and In Person PT can be combined to create a powerful treatment option for many people.”
Dr. Rebecca Davis, PT is Brewer Physical Therapy’s Telehealth PT Specialist. She has successfully provided Telehealth only and Telehealth combined with In Person PT visits for numerous conditions including: post-operative total hip and total knee rehabilitation, urinary incontinence, low back pain, neck pain, vestibular dysfunction, general de-conditioning, post-operative ACL rehabilitation, spinal stenosis, sciatica, SI joint dysfunction, foot pain, difficulty walking, post-operative ulnar nerve transpositions, meniscus tears and repairs, post-operative rotator cuff rehabilitation, herniated disc rehabilitation, mid back pain, pelvic pain among others. You can read more about Dr. Rebecca Davis, PT HERE.
You can Schedule an Appointment with Becky or anyone of our Doctors of Physical Therapy providers at your convenience.
“I want to help people understand the conditions that are limiting their ability to live a life without pain and/or restriction. I want to help people achieve the quality of life they desire by improving the symptoms and physical impairments that are limiting them.”
– Dr. Rebecca Davis, PT, Telehealth PT Specialist