What is virtual physiotherapy? Is it for me? It probably won’t be helpful because I am not seeing the therapist in person and there is no hands on treatment…

Are you stuck working from home? Are you spending hours a day at your makeshift workstation? Have you gone down the Netflix or YouTube rabbit hole because of this crazy life-changing pandemic? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone!

Like many other industries, the private healthcare sector has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. As physiotherapists, we are used to seeing our clients in person and providing hands-on treatment as the main form of therapy. Along with our manipulation techniques, we provide consultation in the form of specific exercise programs, self-care and injury education as well as pain management strategies to our clients. We consider the consultation that we provide to be as important and in some cases even more valuable than the manual therapy aspect of our treatments. Up until now, we were accustomed to doing this IN PERSON.

Now, we (like the rest of Canada) are having to self isolate and practice physical distancing to help stop the spread of this virus. What does this mean to our clients? Most people don’t know how to manage their pain, don’t know where to start and have misconceptions of what is considered to be beneficial in physical recovery.

Although traditional care provided by physiotherapists is no longer possible (for the time being)…we are still here to HELP! Yes, that may seem strange to most people. We are here to debunk these myths! The profession of physiotherapy is being forced to progress. Although we may not be able to provide some of our typical services, we can certainly help. Here is how:

1. We are highly educated primary health care professionals!
Would you seek your Doctor’s advice over the phone if you had any concerns regarding your health and well being? Just like your Doctor, we have a lot of advice to offer our patients. Every registered physiotherapist graduating in Canada since 2006 would have completed a Professional Masters of Science Degree. Along with our manual skills, patient education is one of the things we do best! We know how to manage pain, we can explain why pain occurs, we can predict how performing (or not performing) movements will impact your pain. Best of all, we do not need to be face to face with our clients to educate them. We can do this from the comfort (and safety) of our homes!

2. We know exercise prescription!
If you have ever seen a physiotherapist, you were probably given some form of home exercise program. Even though it may be more ideal to learn exercises in person, it is certainly a great alternative to use video chats or virtual sessions! As long as we can see you, we can offer feedback. Furthermore, we can show you HOW to implement these exercise suggestions in your home!

3. We can teach you self-release techniques!
If you have been to LIFT and have seen one of us, I’m sure you have experienced some of our soft tissue release techniques. When we perform these techniques on our clients, we are doing the same, just with a clear purpose and theory behind it. We can share these tips with our clients on how they can perform the same release technique on themselves at home. In our virtual session, we can provide strategies on how you can perform these self release techniques in a safe and effective way.

4. We can perform an ergonomic assessment!
Are you now working from home? Have you created a makeshift workstation? We get it! You had to be creative. However, is your new setup causing some pain? We now have the ability to see your workstation as you work! How convenient! No more assumptions on posture, positioning, desk and screen set up. We can see it for ourselves. We can give you suggestions, guidance and direction on changes that you can make to help manage any pain or discomfort you are feeling. Based on your specific situation, we can comment on how to make the necessary adjustments you need so that you feel comfortable working at home. We have you covered!

5. We can make YOU accountable!
Depending on who is reading this, you may not like this benefit. However, accountability is key in life! We use our virtual sessions to help you treat yourself and make you accountable for your own health. Being physiotherapists, we obviously like to help people and we like using our manual skills to elicit immediate changes in movement and pain. But ultimately, these changes are typically short lived. You will find longer lasting effects if you take our guidance and implement them into your daily routine. We would never leave you to fend for yourself. HOWEVER, we are suggesting that making some important changes to your routine as well as learning self-treatment techniques may be the answer to longer periods of better mobility, strength, function and less pain.

Still unsure? We get it! This is not your typical physiotherapy session. We understand your skepticism. However, we ask you to step outside your comfort zone and give us a try. In one session, you will learn something new, you will be given answers to your questions and we will show you what you can do at home. It may not be the same, but we think you will be pleasantly surprised!