Coronavirus crisis: Tele-physical therapy offers hope to some who want to postpone or avoid surgery

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Telemedicine: Physical therapy as possible alternative to surgery
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Operations on hips, knees, and other joints is considered "elective" and therefore postponed until stay-at-home orders are lifted, so some are turning to tele-physical therapy.

VALENCIA, Calif. (KABC) -- Those needing surgery on joints such as hips, knees, and shoulders are now in a sort of holding pattern due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders.

Such surgery is considered elective and will need to be postponed until the widespread quarantine is lifted.

Some patients are trying a form of telemedicine that offers them some movement exercises from experts via video-conferencing technology.

The concept is bringing some relief and hope to those doing their homework.

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"Physical therapy remains extremely important because we have those patients who have those injuries that have lack of range of motion, lack of strength, may have gait issues, balance issues yet they are unable to come in to the clinic," said physical therapist Rick Gawenda.

Some physical therapists have found that if patients do the work, it is possible to prevent or postpone the need for surgery.

"You can possibly prolong it and give yourself a chance to improve your range of motion, your strength, minimize your pain, improve your functional status. If you're going to have to have surgery you're going to have a much greater rehab potential," said physical therapist Tim Eckard of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy.

Kinetix and other therapists use video-conferencing technology to converse and allow the therapist to see how the client is doing.

They then provide video exercises to perform at home when convenient.