Virtual Consults – inconvenient necessity or helpful tool during COVID-19?

This review of Online consulting services was prepared by West 4th Physiotherapy associate Marj Belot

Our Provincial Chief Medical Officer instructed all in BC to maintain physical distance as much as feasible, to minimize spread of COVID-19.  To protect the health of our clients, our staff and our community we closed our physical clinic doors March 18 and moved to online clinical consults.

What Are We Doing Now?   Our physiotherapists have been providing virtual online services for the past week using secure connection platforms. With video conferencing the physiotherapist and client connect via the internet using cell phone, tablet or computer. Both parties can hear each other, and using the cameras in each device, both parties can also see each other in real time.

How can Virtual consult replace an In-Clinic Session?   Off the bat, I will say that as a physiotherapist who has spent many years developing expertise in hands on techniques including joint mobilization, joint manipulation, massage, acupuncture, dry needling/IMS and Connect Therapy, I and my colleagues look forward to returning to the clinic and being able to provide these, and other services requiring face to face interaction again. On the other hand, after a week of providing online consults to our ongoing clients as well as some new clients, our dedicated, compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled physiotherapists, and our clients are both giving two thumbs up. It has proven to be a valuable experience!

Assessments are not so different. We listen to your experience of what is troubling you and discuss your treatment goals. One example from my week included evaluating the source and contributing factors to knee pain to guide someone back to running. Running has become an important stress management tool to many in these troubled times. Another person was looking to understand the source and contributing factors of his wrist pain so he can grip, lift, use his phone, exercise and play video games to relieve the stress of being isolated at home. Concussion assessments can also be done remotely but I am shortening my assessments to 45 minutes from 60 min as sensitivity to screens can be an issue for people with this condition.

We still look at posture, mobility, movement patterns and functional strength. I found that I could guide clients through various physiotherapy diagnostic tests themselves to help me figure out the source of pain as well as contributing factors.

Virtual sessions also allow us to teach exercises, evaluate and modify exercise techniques.  Matt and Jen are even modifying their bike fit process to be able to provide advice to make you more comfortable on your bike.

At West 4th Physiotherapy we have always emphasized education, exercise prescription and empowering our clients with self-management and preventative strategies. This is a good fit for us. My prediction is that we will continue to offer virtual services post COVID-19, to complement our in-clinic services.

If you would like to book an online consultation phone our clinic M-F, 8-6 and speak with our fabulous admin staff to book a session. If you are wondering if you could benefit from an online session, check our team page and contact one of our physiotherapists with your questions.

Stay safe and two meters apart!

Your West 4th Physio team




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