Coronavirus and Physical Therapy – How PTs are Making it Safe
Currently, the world of health care is faced with new information and enforced changes (almost) daily because of COVID-19. So, it’s no surprise that physical therapy has also been deeply impacted by such.
But how are physical therapy (PT) practices – normally a very hands-on specialty – adapting to a COVID-19 world?
In order to keep our patients and staff safe and secure, we have focused on the following:
- Staying up-to-date with and abiding by CDC, state, and local guidelines
- Providing appropriate PPE
- For patients that are at high risk or who do not feel comfortable coming into the clinic we have a telehealth option
For those who must remain at home and are unable to visit us in person, our Board-Certified or Doctorate-trained physical therapists are available to meet virtually through an online video chat that is secure and easy to use.
Even though a physical therapist can’t see or meet with you in person, quality care is being provided. If you’re an established patient this option might be best for you because you already have an individualized treatment plan created. A telehealth option for you would consist of updated exercises (if needed), answering any questions you might have, and performing some already established movements to make sure everything is moving as it should.
You might be wondering, is it safe to come to physical therapy? The short answer is, of course!
- We understand that patients may not want to visit our PT clinic unless they feel certain it will help and that they will be safe and protected. That’s why we are offering initial screens online
- We are continually monitoring the CDC, WHO, and local health department guidance to keep the most up-to-date Safety and Health policies and practices.
- Our front desk team screens patients for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19. Patients who meet these criteria will not be re-scheduled until after a two-week symptom-free incubation period, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- In line with social distancing recommendations, we are keeping patients separate from each other as much as possible.
- We wash our hands before and after contact with every patient.
- Our physical therapists are wearing masks and gloves throughout the entire session.
- All staff members wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
- We are continuing our routine environmental cleaning as recommended by the CDC and our local health department.
- We are sanitizing equipment and surfaces patients contact between patients.
- Our clinics are stocked with hand sanitizer and tissues.
- If a staff member is ill, she/he stays home.
If you need physical therapy, it’s best to talk to your physical therapist. He/she can help you figure out the best course of treatment and whether it’s possible to do some or all of it remotely.
How You Can Help Make it Safer
If you are going to physical therapy in person:
- Assess your risk factors. If you are over 65 or have an underlying health condition that might make you more susceptible to COVID-19 complications, APTA recommends that you consider refraining from seeking in-person care to limit possible exposure to the virus.
- Come prepared. If you choose to see your physical therapist in person, be sure to wear a face mask and make sure to use hand sanitizer before and after your visit.
If you are doing remote physical therapy:
- Check your internet speed. Do everything you can to ensure a fast internet speed, whether that means unplugging other devices or using an ethernet cable instead of relying on WiFi.
- Set up your space. Make sure you have a quiet space with enough room to lay down a yoga mat or other cushion and lie flat on your back. While it may seem like a minor consideration, proper lighting will help ensure that your physical therapist can see your movements in detail.
COVID-19 might have impacted the way PT operates; it hasn’t harmed the practice. If anything, COVID has opened a door in which physical therapists can treat/reach more patients (you!).
There’s no telling how much more the COVID-world will change, but either way, the PT-world is ready to embrace that change!