Although the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed insurance companies to allow for TeleHealth physical therapy services, it must be noted that our professional organizations had been working diligently to get this approval long before the virus appeared. I imagine I speak for most physical therapists in that we hope we are able to continue utilizing this option as needed and that insurance will continue to pay for these services.
In a time of quarantine or being mandated to stay in your home, TeleHealth really is one of the only options for continued treatment. IF we can omit the thought of COVID for just a minute, there are multiple examples to consider for when TeleHealth would be a very beneficial option.
1) What about people that live in rural communities?
- Living in Montana, there are many small communities that surround our larger communities. Many individuals living in the smaller areas must drive hours to get medical care and therapy services.
2) What about an elderly individual with mobility or transportation issues?
- Telehealth services can be performed with cellular or wifi and a computer or cell phone so no one has to physically leave the home.
3) What if you are so ill that you cannot physically leave the house?
- When it comes to evaluating a person with dizziness or vertigo, it is actually preferred that we see a person when they are symptomatic as opposed to when the severe symptoms have cleared. We can often have the individual hold the phone up to their eyes or have a significant other video their eyes while taking them through a series of positional testing. This can be beneficial in diagnosis or helping the person determine if they should go to the ER or not.
4) What if you don’t have a car?
- Telehealth options allow for anyone to access service without leaving the home.
These are just a few examples of when TeleHealth would be an excellent option whether it relates to dizziness and vertigo or a more traditional orthopedic complaint. We are eager to see how this will carry out once we begin to resume a ‘new normal’ but we are hopeful that we will be able to continue to offer these services and be paid for these services to expand access to physical therapy for anyone in need.
Kelsey Housman PT, DPT is an Emory Certified Vestibular Physical Therapist at our APRS Physical Therapy West Clinic primarily focused on treating vertigo and vestibular issues.