Taking Care in the Days of Telehealth
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Many of our customers are accustomed to regular visits with physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists. But when the world changed just a few short months ago, we all experienced a dramatic shift in our routines.
When it comes to safeguarding our daily health, none of us can afford to stop paying attention to how we feel, especially during these trying Covid-19 times. It is vital that we all be proactive and safeguard our everyday health.
For individuals with mobility issues, the current lockdown has presented its own set of challenges. And even as the lockdown eases in many states, maintaining social distancing and the ever-present risk of infection are still major impediments to going out, especially to medical appointments.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should stop treatments for a chronic condition or new health concern that may have surfaced in the past few months. Please do continue to reach out to your physician should you need care. You may be surprised to find that many physicians and clinics now offer telehealth, or virtual visits. However, they may only apply to routine or follow-up care.
What about mobility? In the case of physical therapy, many states consider this an “essential service” that is still being offered through in-person visits. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists assess each situation on a case-by-case basis in order to minimize any risk.
For those unable to have in-person physical therapy, there may be a creative solution. Many therapists currently offer therapy sessions via video. Of course, it is best to speak with your own PT and do a little research. Are they offering video sessions appropriate to your type of therapy? Exactly how do the sessions work, especially without the therapist next to you? Are these visits covered by Medicare? If your therapist is able to accommodate you, give yourself time to have a trial session to see if, and how, you can manage it.
“It is critically important to be in touch with your PT, particularly if mobility slows down,” says Tracey Kirstein, a New Jersey-based physical therapist who specializes in home safety and geriatric care. “A therapist can assess muscle weakness, balance, gait and functional changes for example, while evaluating medication, vital signs and sensory changes. This can be done in a video session, with the therapist able to detect functional changes, some of which may be affected by an increased fear of falling or depression, for example.”
In addition, Kirstein suggests finding an outpatient or PT service in your area that may offer online teaching and training to help you improve balance and strength at home if your therapist is unavailable.
While Medicare and most major insurance companies now cover telehealth physical therapy, each state has different regulations and individual plans may vary. Before you decide to move forward with remote PT, its best to check your plan to make sure it will be covered.
I hope these few suggestions will help you get through the next phase of this ever-changing landscape. As always, our commitment to our U-Step clients remains steady, and we are available to answer any questions and concerns you may have. That will never change.
Remember, your health is an investment, not an expense. Covered or not, please consider continuing with your therapy – you will only gain from it in the long run.
I hope that you and your family are taking good care of yourselves and managing through this time safely and in good health.