Many of us take for granted the physical act of getting out of bed but for others, it represents an insurmountable challenge. Various genetics and injuries put millions of people in extraordinary pain every day and for them, physical therapy software offers hope.
Physical therapy isn’t physiotherapy where practitioners have a very tactile and hands-on approach. Instead, physical therapy predominantly focuses on exercises and motivating the mind. Of course, there’s an overlap but either way, physical therapy software adds another dimension to practitioners to give a deeper level of support to their clients.
Of course, many patients might still need a blended approach with some face time. Nevertheless, getting physical therapy online and at home is a huge benefit to motivate people to keep going. When faced with pain, the mind can be our worst enemy.
Keep reading to discover how technology and Quenza support physical therapy as well as some of the best software tools out there. We’ll leave you fully equipped to take on this new virtual physical therapy world.
Understanding Physical Therapy
The first question to consider is, especially in light of software use, what is physical therapy? As defined by the American Physical Therapy Association, it’s a treatment plan tailored to each individual in order to improve their mobility to better function in life. A key aspect of this plan is managing or reducing pain .
As you can imagine, a physical therapy certification focuses on how to diagnose patients and from that, how to determine the right intervention. Certain equipment and devices might be needed but many of these don’t have to be particularly special and anyone can buy them for their home .
Typical equipment might include exercise balls, resistance bands, foam rollers and many more. The aim is to retrain muscles and ligaments to move either after injury or a sickness. So, you might wonder where software fits into all this.
Although, it’s important to note that the mind is working just as much as the body. For instance, this 2021 study shows the impact of physical therapy on reducing cognitive decline in people suffering from Parkinson’s .
In fact, physical therapy has a critical role to play in healthcare because it encourages people to reclaim their lives, despite the horrific challenges they’re facing. That’s not to say the journey is easy but physical therapists give people hope. They do this by breaking down insurmountable challenges into manageable daily chunks where people can see progress and start to feel in control again.
As such, physical therapists need to be creative just like any other therapist, counselor or coach. If you want to stand out from the competition, software is your new ally. With software, you can give a more holistic approach to treatment, including managing the mind and all its hang-ups.
To learn more about treatment plans, we highly recommend taking a look at our article what is a treatment plan?
Facing the Effect of Fear-Based Beliefs on Goal Achievement
Furthermore, with the aid of physical therapy software, people can be in constant contact with their physical therapists. Sometimes it takes a simple chat message to transform someone’s day from despair to empowerment. Then, there’s the power videos and images to demonstrate and examine exercises. With software, the possibilities of creating personalized programs are endless.
So, what technology do physical therapists use? As mentioned, there have been many advances in technology in the last few decades including thermal and electrical equipment. The advances also cover diagnostic technologies such as electromyography to measure muscle response and motion analysis systems that replace the use of video with computers.
In addition, we now have robotic therapy equipment and virtual reality (VR) systems. The idea behind VR is that the mind has something to distract it from pain. As it wanders through the virtual scenario, people also find the rehabilitation work less daunting and even less boring.
Moreover, as a 2021 study shows, VR represents a huge opportunity for working with older adults approaching the end of life .
The other big question is “Can physical therapy be done virtually”? Yes!
Physical therapists can gather information from their clients through video conferencing from which to make their diagnosis. The aim is not to take over a client’s recovery but to let them own their healing journey.
As such, the therapist can guide and suggest but the client is empowered to make their own decisions. This becomes a much smoother and more collaborative dynamic when the client is in their personal space, at home.
Physical therapy online has grown over the years and especially during covid. Overall, physical therapy software has proven itself as a valuable tool for demonstrating exercises, checking on progress and generally guiding clients through their physical recovery.
Physical therapists leverage their deep knowledge of the body and all its functions as an integrated system. They will first assess their client’s particular way of moving and how their body type comes into play. From there, they can propose exercises to strengthen limbs and reduce pain .
Of course, the internet offers a plethora of exercises to relieve various bodily aches and pains but this doesn’t take into account the various ways we all differ. Instead, how physical therapy works is that the best therapists can catch the slightest lean or twitch which allows them to problem solve exactly what each client needs.
Some therapists also use physical therapy software to take videos for clients to see exactly how their movements coordinate and impact their condition. Such videos, or motion analysis systems, are especially useful because you can slow them down and zoom in on the tiniest movements that need changing.
When it comes to methods and techniques, you might already know of modalities such as using heat, mechanical, electromagnetic and even light energies to relieve pain and decrease swelling . Nevertheless, a physiotherapist usually uses those tools. While there is some overlap, physical therapists technically focus solely on exercises which can be done anywhere.
The most common technique used by physical therapists is, as already mentioned, exercises with various aids. Although, in some face-to-face sessions, they might also use massage or electrical stimulation to promote the muscular healing process.
Moreover, for special cases, therapists might even commission specific equipment. Overall, physical therapy is a highly tailored and personalized experience for people to live as independently as possible.
Physical Therapy as a Profession
As most Physical Therapists will know, in 2000 APTA published their vision statement for the industry. This was to ensure professionalism, along with the use of evidence based techniques and client choice in terms of who they work with. You can view the 6 elements of the vision on the APTA website as summarized below:
- Autonomous practice
- Direct access
- Practitioner of choice
- Doctor of Physical Therapy
- Evidence-based practice
As you can see from APTA’s vision, it’s critical for physical therapists to get a doctorate. Moreover, the program must be accredited by APTA, after which you need to pass the relevant license for your state. Not only does this ensure professional standards but it also gives credibility to clients from which to build trust .
The doctor of physical therapy certification is normally 3 years and covers all aspects of the body, as already mentioned. In addition, future practitioners learn about behavioral sciences, communication techniques as well as ethics and values .
Without such soft skills, as a therapist, you would struggle to motivate your clients or adapt to their communication and learning styles. On top of that, therapists have to learn how to leverage physical therapy software. Some clients might relish the idea of apps and online chats but others will need personal face-to-face interactions.
Values Vision Board
The Role of a Physical Therapist
As the governing body, APTA has laid out the Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy. This document guides professionals through the key points they need to offer exceptional services. While it doesn’t go into the details, it does give a good framework for best practices .
This framework includes recommendations for policies, documentation, intake and evaluation forms, invoicing, referrals and much more. It’s also critical to note that physical therapists, just like all medical practitioners, must follow HIPAA requirements.
To this end, it’s worth noting that a platform like Quenza makes it much easier to meet those HIPAA requirements. Not only does Quenza follow HIPAA rules but it also allows you to easily create your own therapy notes.
While the core role of physical therapists is to apply exercises to reduce pain and improve mobility, they are also educators and inquirers. On the one hand, they teach their clients how to use exercises but also how their body works. On the other hand, they also gently challenge their clients to encourage behavioral change. By asking reflective questions, they can raise self-awareness and create an openness to that change .
Another aspect of their work, like most professionals, is the admin side of things. Not only do client records need to be safely stored but they often also need to manage budgets and potentially even teams in larger facilities.
That’s where physical therapy software can be particularly beneficial. With the right software, client information is both safe and organized. Employees also have a central place for resources and schedules.
Quenza Covers HIPAA & GDPR Requirements
Quenza removes the worry of HIPAA requirements by being compliant and ensuring complete security.
The big question people often ask is, “Can physical therapists prescribe”? The short answer is that it depends on location. The US takes the stance that they aren’t medical doctors, so it is illegal for them to prescribe anything. On the contrary, physical therapists tend to fall under the bracket of physiotherapists in the UK who can prescribe medication .
The UK’s view is that they are qualified health professionals. Although, of course, physical therapists in the US will work closely with their other medical colleagues and it’s easy for them to refer their clients where appropriate.
Now that we know the answer to “What is physical therapy”, how does physical therapy software make a difference? Some software, for instance, allows therapists to manage all their back office processes including Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
Other online tools are designed to interact directly with clients. This can be through video, chat and of course, by sharing exercises through physical therapy software.
The main benefit of physical therapy online is that people feel supported 24/7. Even if therapists aren’t online all the time, it’s reassuring to know that they’re only a click of a button away.
Moreover, most people who need physical therapy struggle to move around so online therapy gives them access to the support they need. Otherwise, the alternatives might be far too disruptive and costly.
The question “Can physical therapy be done virtually” won’t necessarily be a yes every time. Depending on the severity of the case or even a client’s comfort with technology, face-to-face interactions might be better.
Let’s not forget how physical therapy works though. There is just as much of a back office process as there is client interaction. Even if client software isn’t appropriate, physical therapy software can still enable therapists to save time on admin tasks and focus on where they add the most value.
The biggest potential downside of working with physical software therapy is how to build rapport and trust. Every physical therapist will have their own unique approach. Nevertheless, mental and emotional exercises can help break the tension.
The Mountain Climber Metaphor
Physical Therapy Online: Platforms and Resources
Now that we have such sophisticated mobile and computer devices in our homes, online physical therapy is highly effective. The aim of any physical therapy software is to increase client engagement so they have higher chances of success. They still need their physical therapist to guide them on specifics but with the right app, clients are empowered to own their recovery.
There is an increasing number of different physical therapy software platforms out there so you have to consider what might be right for you.
As a practitioner, you want to balance cost versus use. So, do you want something that covers both the back office, such as billing and scheduling, and client interface or simply client interface? Moreover, you need to find the app that suits your target client. For instance, there’s no point in using physical therapy software geared at the younger generation if you mainly work with senior adults.
Then it comes down to personal preference and how you like the look and feel of each online platform. Where possible, it’s a good idea to test it out with a trial just to make sure it suits your needs and your overall process.
In the table below, we’ve given you 4 of the best physical therapy software platforms to get you started.
|WebPT||Free onboarding and unlimited product and account support. Also includes compliance alerts and extensive reporting features.||An EMR platform that covers all billing, scheduling and client documentation needs privately and securely. The biggest benefit for practitioners is that they can make data-driven decisions for managing their businesses.||2 core packages at $3/day and $6/day. Additional option for custom pricing.|
|Orca Health Apps||Interactive images and videos that physical therapists can use to educate patients. Clients can then rewatch relevant exercises on their own.||This app is specifically designed to engage those who don’t have English as their second language or who aren’t digitally literate.||One off cost of $19.99 for the app.|
|Pt Pal Pro||Physical exercises, mood check-ins and tracking analytics. Also includes Electronic Health Record system.||Another platform aimed to increase therapist-patient collaboration through interactive check-ins.||Free to download.|
|Quenza||Activities, expansions, pathways, chat function, document creation and storage. HIPAA & GDPR compliant.||An all in one platform that covers both back-office and client engagement.||1$ for 1 month trial and then 3 packages to choose from.|
Success Stories of Physical Therapy
Every physical therapy center and practitioner has a higher volume of success stories than otherwise. Of course, we can’t save everyone but there are a multitude of stories that more than prove the effectiveness of physical therapy.
As an example, Rasmussen University in the US details 7 touching stories. One multiple sclerosis patient went from being dependent on their walker to regularly running. Another runner was told by his doctor he couldn’t compete in a race after an operation but physical therapy allowed him to successfully complete a half marathon.
As another therapist points out in the same set of stories, it was by building a partnership with her client that she could guide him through the journey of relinquishing the wheelchair. Together they created manageable goals that suited his mindset and approach but it also took encouragement and courage .
Physical therapy software can further support such successes because it’s like having a personal therapist in your pocket. Clients get reminders and words of encouragement while being able to track their goals. In summary, it’s the perfect toolkit to keep people going through some of the toughest moments in their lives.
Physical therapy software and technology will continue to evolve. Virtual reality and AI will become increasingly mainstream as will wearable technology that monitors our vitals. With all these advancements, data privacy and security will continue to be the focus to ensure client safety and trust in the industry.
Motion capture and gamification will also become more common to engage and empower people in how they approach their exercises. As part of this, telehealth is expected to continue to grow with therapists connecting with more virtual clients than ever before.
It’s up to therapists to stay on top of these physical therapy software developments and to keep clients at the forefront. Quenza is one such platform that focuses on the client’s needs with detailed and ready-made exercises that can be put together into pathways.
These pathways, or automated scheduled series of activities, are a great way to keep nudging your clients forward. They can be used as daily check-ins as well as physical or mental exercises during the week. Overall, clients experience an interactive and inspiring journey to keep them on track to their ultimate goal.
Online physical therapy is a major shift in the medical profession. Today, physical therapists often partner with medical professionals to provide more creative and flexible support for day-to-day rehabilitation work.
The best physical therapy software now allows more people to access this support. As a result, they also get mental and emotional through reminders, encouragement and daily online check-ins to keep their motivation up. Without a positive mindset, no amount of exercise will get them to their goals.
With Quenza, practitioners also have hundreds of ready-made exercises to keep the mind active, engaged and stimulated. Why not see for yourself with this free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial to see just how much impact you could have with your clients?
- ^ American Physical Therapy Association. (n.d.). Becoming a PT. Retrieved from https://www.apta.org/your-career/careers-in-physical-therapy/becoming-a-pt#:~:text=Physical%20therapists%20examine%20each%20person,profound%20effect%20on%20people's%20lives.
- ^ All Allied Health Schools. (n.d.). How to Become a Certified Physical Therapist: Education & Licensing. Retrieved from https://www.allalliedhealthschools.com/physical-therapy/physical-therapy-certification/.
- ^ Avenali, M., Picascia, M., Tassorelli, C., & others. (2021). Evaluation of the efficacy of physical therapy on cognitive decline at 6-month follow-up in Parkinson disease patients with mild cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 33, 3275-3284. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-021-01865-4.
- ^ Campo-Prieto, P., Cancela, J. M., & Rodríguez-Fuentes, G. (2021). Immersive virtual reality as physical therapy in older adults: Present or future (systematic review). Virtual Reality, 25, 801-817. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10055-020-00495-x.
- ^ Motion Therapy. (2021, October 18). How Does Physical Therapy Work? Retrieved from https://www.ewmotiontherapy.com/blog/how-does-physical-therapy-work#:~:text=Physical%20therapy%20is%20all%20about,the%20therapist%20to%20optimize%20recovery.
- ^ Physiopedia. (n.d.). Therapeutic Modalities. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Therapeutic_Modalities#:~:text=Therapeutic%20modalities%20refer%20to%20the,improve%20circulation.
- ^ Pagliarulo, M. A. (2016). Introduction to Physical Therapy (5th ed.). Elsevier Inc.
- ^ American Physical Therapy Association. (n.d.). Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.apta.org/apta-and-you/leadership-and-governance/policies/standards-of-practice-pt.
- ^ Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. (2021, February 17). Prescribing for physiotherapists. Retrieved from https://www.csp.org.uk/professional-clinical/professional-guidance/medicines-prescribing-injection-therapy/prescribing#:~:text=Supplementary%20and%20independent%20prescribing%20by,medicines%20for%20purely%20cosmetic%20purposes.
- ^ Scherman, J. (2017, October 10). Does Physical Therapy Work? 7 Success Stories That Will Make You a Believer. Rasmussen University. Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/health-sciences/blog/does-physical-therapy-work/.