Hands-On Care From 6 Feet Away: Physical Therapists Are Social Distancing & Pivoting To Telehealth

Apr 3, 2020

Even during a pandemic, people still get broken legs. Some are still recovering from knee replacements.

It can be difficult to provide hands-on care when you have to stay six feet away from your patients.

But that’s the situation for outpatient clinics like CORA Edgebrook physical therapy in Rockford. Josh Meyers is one of their physical therapists.

“We've had to educate them a lot on what to do when they go home because some of the patients that are not able to be in the clinic have to be able to maintain progress while they're away, and they've got to really know what they're doing to continue to that rehab progress," said Meyers.

Many patients who may have compromised immune systems are staying away from in-person exercises altogether.

So clinics like CORA Edgebrook physical therapy in Rockford are pivoting towards telehealth. Meyers says clinics rarely used telehealth before around three weeks ago, but it’s been effective.

“The only thing we can't do on telehealth is touch you," he said. "But at the same time, we're good enough with ‘Point here, point there, tell me what you feel, tell me what you're thinking’ and we can definitely sort that out pretty quickly and get past that hurdle.”

Meyers says over the past few weeks insurance companies have loosened requirements to open the door for telehealth.

It can be used for patients who can’t come in, as well as therapists who could use it to work from home. He says the biggest obstacle has been educating patients and staff on technology.

At the facility, workers are going the extra mile to protect patients and staff.

Some therapists wear masks and gloves, double cleaning equipment after a session. Patients walk through exercises while trying not to touch extra equipment.

For people still receiving in-person treatment, CORA is also screening patients and staff for symptoms every time they walk through the door,and sending them home if necessary.