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Remote Tele Physiotherapy

Gaining some remote control

Well it’s been a crazy few weeks with lots of uncertainty, change and getting used to new “normals”. This has been as true in the physiotherapy world as anywhere else. The effect of the government’s social distancing advice in response to the COVID-19 epidemic has had a huge affect on the normal format of a physiotherapy clinic and appointment.

Photo by Mateusz Dach on

I’m sure you have all been becoming much more familiar with remote ways of working and communicating. At Better Physiotherapy we have been able to quickly and successfully move from traditional “face to face” appointments to remote video conferencing appointments within the last 2 weeks.

“How does that work?” I hear some of you ask. “Don’t you have to touch someone to help them?” Well- no actually! Although at Better Physiotherapy we understand the value of touch and the positive effect this can have for both patients and therapists (see our earlier blog), we also realise that touch is only a part of physiotherapy and certainly not the most important part.

Physiotherapists are experts in- diagnosing muscle and joint related problems; understanding and giving advice on reducing the effects of pain on a persons life; giving advice on different forms of exercise; and restoring normal activity and function. We are able to do all of these things effectively without touch.

Now we are not saying that a remote appointment is likely to feel exactly like a face to face appointment. We know there are things that will not be the same when you can’t be in same room and able to communicate directly but there are numerous advantages:

  1. Prevents the spread of infection!

  2. Convenient

  3. No travel time

  4. Easier to fit in around work and child-care

  5. More cost effective

  6. Allows the therapist the chance to see the challenges you may experience in your home environment

There is a good base of research for remote appointments confirming these advantages and showing comparable outcomes to face to face appointments (Russell et al., 2010; Salisbury et al., 2013; Campbell et al., 2014; Totten et al., 2016; Williams et al., 2018; Berryhill et al., 2019; Ignatowicz et al., 2019; Donaghy et al., 2019; Hammersley et al., 2019; GMC, n.d.).

Some examples of successful recent remote appointments we have had include:

  1. Helping a young man with neck and shoulder pain improve his movement, strength and build towards normal duties at work

  2. Helping a lady with neck pain and stiffness and demonstrating effective exercises she can complete at home

  3. Helping a man with back pain to improve his movement, strength, exercise levels and confidence in his home environment and giving him advice on ways to fit exercise and relaxation in around child care and his busy work schedule

How does a remote appointment work?” Well its pretty simple really. Once you have booked an appointment either online or by phone we send you an invite to a meeting at the time of the appointment. You click the link to the invite at the right time and the meeting begins.

For the appointment you can use a mobile, tablet or laptop with a camera as long as you are able to set it down facing yourself. Make sure you are in a private environment that allows you to expose the areas that you are having problems with.  Also ensure that you have room to demonstrate any problem movements and exercises. 

Remote appointments use a safe and secure form of encrypted communication. The therapist works from a private environment and as with a face to face appointment none of your information will be recorded or shared without your permission, in line with GDPR regulation. If you have private medical insurance most will cover remote physiotherapy appointments as normal.

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