Physical therapists hold virtual sessions

Published: May. 3, 2020 at 7:51 PM EDT
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Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 3, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Physical therapy is going virtual as the coronavirus forces many patients to go on screen to receive care.

The Florida Physical Therapy Association says telehealth was just approved for physical therapy last year. Since then it has only been used by Veterans Affairs, but COVID-19 is forcing offices to act quickly to adapt.

Sophie Lombard has a new routine of practicing physical therapy exercises to treat scoliosis. Her sessions started with Joy for Therapy in February, but the last few weeks the sessions are all done from home.

"It's been going good, I think it helps a lot," Lombard said. "I think it's going to make a difference."

Joy Smith, owner of Joy for Therapy in Tallahassee, says this is the first time her office is using telehealth. Though it has its challenges, she says it does help keep a continuity of care, especially for patients with scoliosis.

"I can finally see what you have to use at home," Smith said. "I have these bars that I have in my clinic, but you might not have bars at your home. So it's been really good to see what we can utilize in their own homes."

But not all therapy work can be done over a screen.

Jamie Dyson, President of the Florida Physical Therapy Association, continues to see hospital patients in Orlando, including several who are COVID-19 positive.

"We've been doing a lot more what we call proning in the ICU," Dyson said. "We put the patient on their belly, and what that does it helps with their breathing."

While the pandemic has forced a fast track to telemedicine, therapists believe it's a resource they will continue to invest in beyond the crisis.

As an essential business, Joy for Therapy is still seeing some clients in person. Smith says all initial consultations are done virtually, only one client will be seen in the office at a time and staff are allowing more time for sanitizing.