What is Telehealth or Digital Physiotherapy?

By Amy Gillespie, Physiotherapist.

Telehealth, online physiotherapy, virtual physiotherapy, digital physiotherapy – these are many names for essentially the same thing.  Originally, telehealth involved the use of phone communication to undertake healthcare assessments and treatment for those patients in remote areas.  As time and technology has progressed, we have now been able to move on to video consultations where the therapist and the client are able to see each other face-to-face from the comfort of their own home or office.  Also as time progresses, it is no longer just those in remote locations that are finding the benefit of telehealth but also those is more urban areas who have busy schedules, juggling work and family life. 

Digital physiotherapy is beneficial for anyone with musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains and strains, pre- and post-surgery and for any little niggles that occur with day-day life – such as that annoying knee pain that develops when you start training for a fun run. The aim of digital physiotherapy is not to replace face-to-face physiotherapy but to provide a service for a gap in the market, for those clients who are unable to access traditional physiotherapy services. For some people it is a geographical issue, those people living in isolated areas. For others, it can be work or family commitments that mean they find it hard to get in for face-to-face treatment on a regular basis.

Physiotherapy is traditionally thought of as a very ‘hands on’ profession where the therapist needs to use their manual skills to both assess and treat a patient’s injury.  However, as time goes by there is a change in thinking and a movement away from ‘passive’ treatments (where the therapist treats the patients, with hands, acupuncture needles or electrotherapy) and heading towards a more active approach where the patients are playing a big role in managing their injury with the supervision and guidance of the therapist. 

Digital physiotherapy fits with this active management approach perfectly. In the active approach, both education, activity modification and exercise play a big part and as digital physiotherapists were are able to do incorporate both education, any modifications to your activity/lifestyle that may be needed and exercise into a personalised management plan and help act as a coach for the patient.  As the therapist takes a role of coach rather than ‘the fixer’ it allows the patient to feel empowered and learn that they can take control of their injury and their recovery with the guidance of a qualified and experienced physiotherapist.  Research has shown that online physiotherapy can be as effective, if not more effective, than traditional face-to-face physiotherapy.

Here at The Digital Physio, we offer our services in a range of packages which give access to the physiotherapist for a certain period of time ranging from 1-12 weeks.  During this period of time you have unlimited access to your physiotherapy, meaning any little questions that pop up, you are able to just quickly send via our secure messaging system and then the physiotherapist is able to answer you back as soon as they can.  With traditional physiotherapy sessions, you would likely not bother to call or email to ask the physiotherapist any small or seemingly trivial questions, but at The Digital Physio we really encourage that you do so. 

We use PhysiApp (an app downloaded to your phone or tablet) to provide you with an individualised management plan which you can access on your phone or computer.  PhysiApp has videos of the exercises in your plan so that you can be sure that you are doing them correctly.  With all our packages we are also able to easily update and progress exercises that get too easy and change or tailor any that you are finding you are struggling with.

Please reach out and contact us at amy@thedigital.physio if you have any questions about digital physiotherapy and how it may be able to help you.

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