Accessing services, including physiotherapy, proved challenging during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as in many industries, this challenge sparked innovation amongst physiotherapists.
In my opinion, accessing physiotherapy is now safer and easier than ever. Let me explain.
As regulated health-care professionals, physiotherapists are bound by the provincial regulatory body and public health guidelines. Private clinic owners worked tirelessly to follow the guidelines to be able to reopen safely.
Pre-screening, increased disinfection protocols and scheduling adjustments are just some of the changes that clinics implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to illness, including COVID-19. Additionally, virtual care has been embraced as a wonderful option that eliminates any risk of viral exposure, in addition to being convenient.
Many of our clients have embraced a hybrid model of these services. They attend in-person appointments when hands-on care is needed, but also make use of the convenience of virtual services to ensure they are set up for exercises properly at home.
Once you know the new processes, some of the changes to both in-clinic and virtual care can initially feel overwhelming, despite their relative ease. Here are my tips to ensure your in-clinic and virtual physiotherapy care goes as smoothly as possible.
Attending your in-clinic appointment
- Expect multiple COVID-19 screenings prior to your appointment.
- Arrive on schedule to avoid missing time with your physiotherapist. (Most clinics are limiting crossover time between clients and have a harder time being flexible as a result.)
- Arrive with a face mask that is comfortable to wear for the duration of your visit.
Navigating virtual care technology
- Laptops provide maximal versatility if portable (must be able to unplug), but tablets and phones also work.
- Talk to your provider to find out the best internet browser to use for their virtual system.
- If possible, sign on to the system ahead of your first appointment to sort out any glitches.
- Avoid a lot of backlighting (i.e. keep curtains closed).
- Use headphones, if possible, for better sound clarity.
- Have a phone number to call if you have tech trouble.
- Give it a chance. Virtual care feels different initially, but it can be equally effective in many cases.
In-clinic care provides an opportunity for hands-on assessment and treatment techniques. Virtual care allows the physiotherapist to see you in the environment where you experience your issues and can help identify problems you haven’t recognized yourself.
With virtual care, we can also ensure you are doing your exercise program properly at home.
Being able to combine the benefits of these two treatment methods has the potential to optimize the results of your physiotherapy care, while minimizing your risk of illness exposure during the pandemic.