There is no denying it. Low back pain is inconvenient. It happens when you least expect it and it happens when you simply don’t have time to be fussing with doctors appointments and physical therapy.
Low back pain demands that you take time off work to go to doctors appointments. It makes you miss our on memorable moments, family gatherings, and dream vacations.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
How Can Physical Therapy Be Done At Home?
Home physical therapy programs and digital physical therapy solutions are here to save the day.
Telehealth is not a new invention, but it was slow to be embraced by many stakeholders in the medical community. Not because it was bad, or too expensive, but because many still thought that in-person visits were better and because that was how things had always been done.
When we were forced to stay in our homes, or we were too worried about our health to engage in much-needed wellness appointments or doctor visits the medical community recognized that the only way to continue to provide care was to dust off telehealth and to let the service shine.
Key Benefits Of Virtual Physical Therapy
Some key benefits of virtual physical therapy/ telehealth clients include:
1. Increased convenience and flexibility (you can do your therapy at a time and place that is convenient for you)
2. Increased access to healthcare professionals (especially for those living in rural communities)
3. Decreased costs (related to issues like transportation and childcare)
4. Increased attendance (less time needed to be taken off from work increased adherence to appointments)
5. Privacy (you don’t have to worry about working out in front of other people)
6. Increased health equity (typically cheaper than in-person so it is more affordable for more people)
Does In-Home Physical Therapy Actually Work?
Why was the medical community so skeptical about telehealth for managing musculoskeletal conditions? Can physical therapy be done at home?
Many healthcare professionals have experienced a lack of engagement and adherence to even the simplest home exercise programs that they encourage patients to complete in between physical therapy sessions. And the reasons for why people don’t complete them are totally understandable:
1. Fear avoidance.
Back pain is already a debilitating condition so it is understandable that patients are terrified of making things worse. Quite often, when you start working out after being sedentary for a while it can hurt a bit in the beginning. When patients are away from the watchful eyes of their physical therapists, they can be scared of doing something wrong that ends up making things worse.
We get it. Life gets busy and no one has time to be sick or injured. Finding the time and the motivation to exercise and stretch when you aren’t used to it can be a huge stumbling block for many people suffering from low back pain.
Research has shown that adherence to home exercise plans can range from 30-50%, that means that more than half of us aren’t doing our exercises when we are supposed to, and that has a huge impact on your recovery time.
How Do New Virtual Physical Therapy Clinics Address These Problems?
Low back pain is increasingly recognized as a complex condition that involves many different lifestyle factors. Stress, diet, activity levels, genetics, trauma, sleep, and hormones all play a key role in the development and management of low back pain.
As companies recognize this interplay of conditions they are developing programs that take a biopsychosocial approach to pain management to ensure that their customers are supported in all aspects of their lives. These factors are closely related to the adherence and fear avoidance issues we mentioned above.
Key Factors Influencing Adherence To Digital Physical Therapy Programs:
2. Motivation levels
3. Pain levels
4. Progress Tracking
5. Enough time to do the exercises
7. Communication with healthcare professionals/support/follow-ups
8. Difficulty level of the exercises
9. The number of exercises you have to do/ total time spent on rehabilitation
10. Mental state
How Can At-Home Physical Therapy Address Adherence Issues?
Research has shown that there is a strong evidence to link people’s mental states to adherence. When we are feeling depressed or anxious we are not very likely to feel motivated or inclined to participate in a wellness program.
Digital PT clinics that recognize this and help patient address their stress and mental health issues can increase adherence levels dramatically.
Fear avoidance and increases in pain while doing physical therapy exercises is also a major obstacle to people adhering to their rehabilitation programs.
How Digital PT Can Help With Exercise Adherence
With the introduction of digital physical therapy programs, research has found that 'technology-based exercise programs have higher completion rates than traditional exercise programs'.
It is important to note, however, that people often react differently to technology with some older adults sometimes feeling less confident using technology than younger patients.
Tools like cognitive behavioral therapy, MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Relief), and exercise modifications can help patients find ways to exercise without pain and can help address fear avoidance beliefs.
How Can You Do Physical Therapy Exercises At Home?
There are several options available if you want to do physical therapy exercises at home. One option is to find exercises online and put together a plan for yourself. This can be tricky and if you are not a trained physical therapist you might be missing out on key exercises for your condition.
A second option is to see a physical therapist who can then give you access to their home exercise programs. While many professionals find a hybrid model of care to be a great idea, it is not always practical for those who live in rural areas and don’t have access to physical therapists, or for those who lack insurance and can’t afford to see a physical therapist.
The third option is to find a digital PT clinic that offers an in-home solution. There are many companies that offer these services such as Omada Health, Sword Health, Hinge Health, and LivaFortis. Some of these companies only offer their solutions through specific employers (you can check and see if your employer is offering their program) but others offer their product directly to customers at a low cost price.
Things To Consider Before Starting An At-Home Physical Therapy Program
If you're considering doing physical therapy at home, there are a few things you need to do to make sure you do it safely and effectively.
1.Talk to your doctor or physical therapist: Before you start any home-based physical therapy program, it's important to talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They can help you assess your needs and develop a safe and effective exercise program.
2. Get the right equipment: Some home-based physical therapy programs require special equipment. If you need equipment, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what you need and where you can get it.
3. Follow the instructions: It's important to follow the instructions your doctor or physical therapist gives you. This will help you get the most out of your home-based physical therapy program.
4. Listen to your body: If you're feeling pain, stop the exercise and rest. Don't push yourself too hard.
5. Be patient: It takes time to see results from physical therapy. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately. Just keep at it, and you'll eventually see improvement.
How To Do At-Home Physical Therapy Safely
Here are some tips for doing physical therapy at home safely and effectively:
Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercises as you get stronger.
Listen to your body and take breaks when you need them.
Use proper form to avoid injury.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your exercises.
Warm up before you start exercising and cool down afterwards.
If you have any questions or concerns about doing physical therapy at home, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist.
Additional Benefits of Home-Based Physical Therapy
In addition to the benefits listed above, home-based physical therapy can also offer the following benefits:
Increased motivation: When you're exercising in the comfort of your own home, you may be more motivated to stick with your program.
Improved adherence: Studies have shown that people who do physical therapy at home are more likely to adhere to their program than those who attend traditional physical therapy.
Reduced stress: Exercising at home can help you reduce stress and improve your overall mood.
Tips for Doing Home-Based Physical Therapy Effectively
If you're considering doing home-based physical therapy, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your program:
Set realistic goals: When you're setting goals for your home-based physical therapy program, make sure they're realistic and achievable.
Make it fun: Find ways to make your home-based physical therapy program fun and enjoyable. This will help you stick with it in the long run.
Track your progress: Keep track of your progress so you can see how you're doing and stay motivated.
Reward yourself: Reward yourself for reaching your goals. This will help you stay on track and motivated.
Choose a company that fits your needs. Picking the right digital physical therapy company for you can make a huge difference. The right program should be highly personalized to your condition, give you access to a variety of tools to manage your health, and support you every step of the way. They should also have progress tracking tools so that you can measure your progress and see how far you have come!
If you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to achieving the benefits of home-based physical therapy.
Physical therapy can be a very effective way to improve your health and well-being. If you're unable to attend traditional physical therapy, home-based physical therapy can be a great alternative.
When speaking with your physical therapist, or choosing a virtual PT program it is importance to make sure that you feel like you will be supported and motivated throughout your recovery journey.
Having a program that guides you each step of the way is key to making sure you feel comfortable doing the exercises at home and that you can do them safely and effectively. Programs that offer biofeedback solutions or motion-tracking are specifically designed to address these issues.
With the right PT partner and some careful planning and execution, you can safely and effectively do physical therapy at home.