Have you had a knee replacement surgery, or are soon to have? One major aspect of your recovery would be the rehabilitation of your new joint.
A dedicated physical therapist will strengthen and support your joint, restore joint movement, decrease the intensity of pain and the level of swelling, and help you to continue your activities of daily living as quickly as possible. Physical therapy also puts postoperative complications at bay.
Beyond these benefits, the complexities of navigating the coronavirus pandemic have served as an impetus for innovation in 2020, resulting in unique delivery modalities for physical therapy. Traditionally, physical therapy, would begin in hospital settings and continue in outpatient physical therapy centers. Now, with advances in modern communications technology coupled with social distancing mandates necessitated due to the coronavirus pandemic, patients can conveniently, safely, affordably, and time-efficiently continue on with their therapy protocols post knee replacement via real-time, one-on-one video telehealth physical therapy.
Knee Replacement Surgery
Over 90% of patients who undergo knee replacement surgery testify to its effectiveness in enhancing the quality of life and reducing pain. Over 500,000 knee replacement surgeries are done annually in the United States, and with the increasing aging population, the figure is expected to grow significantly.
There are three main types of knee replacement surgeries. These include:
- Total knee replacement which involves the replacement of the whole knee
- Partial knee replacement that involves replacing only an afflicted part of the knee
- Bilateral knee replacement in which both knees are replaced simultaneously
Post-surgical knee replacement therapy is one of the most common physical therapy programs developed and managed by the physical therapists of Virtual Therapy Partners.
What Happens During The Knee Replacement Procedure?
A knee replacement surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, and/or peripheral nerve blocks. Your surgeon will also administer a dose of antibiotics to prevent you from getting an infection as the affected bone and diseased cartilage will be removed. The cartilage is also removed from the nexus of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) at your knee joint.
The surgeon will then replace the knee-facing surfaces with a metal implant. The orthopedic surgeon then replaces the back of your kneecap with a special plastic, and finally, places the same plastic material between the two metal surfaces. This will give your knee joints the smooth surfaces they need to bend and flex with ease, and without pain.
What Happens After A Knee Replacement Surgery?
In the conventional setting, most patients will spend at least 2 nights in the hospital after a knee replacement operation. The surgeon will prescribe an analgesic and will watch out for complications. After your knee replacement operation, you will be assigned a facility physical therapist who will help you with the following:
- Physical therapy exercises for musculoskeletal strengthening and flexibility
- Occupational therapy to help you adapt to the functionality of your new knee
- Weight-bearing therapy such as standing and walking for balance and gait training
You will have to progress with the prescribed therapy exercises, and when your doctor confirms that you have gained some independence and can self-perform some basic activities of daily living like using the bathroom, you will be able to go home. You may have to use a walker or a cane for a brief period after your knee replacement surgery.
Upon returning home, you will have to continue with the prescribed therapy, and you will have to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to advance your exercise regime to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcomes. Options for you may include outpatient therapy clinics, home healthcare agencies, and/or a telehealth therapy companies. If you are seeking:
- high-level outcomes
- from the convenience of your home
- without taking the risk of coming into contact with COVID19 or other pathogens
then a telehealth therapy company such as Virtual Therapy Partners can deliver to you real-time, one-on-one video teletherapy sessions with professional physical therapists, expertly-trained in orthopedic knee replacement rehabilitation.
How Telehealth Physical Therapy Works
With present-day technology, many healthcare providers are now adding telehealth services to their catalog of treatment plans. Physical therapy services are not left out. With any video-capable device (smart cell phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) and an internet connection, your physical therapist can provide you with a virtual video evaluation, develop and discuss a complete treatment plan, and show you a demonstration of your exercises so that you can have a firm grasp of how to do it by yourself. Thereafter, your therapist will watch you as you do the prescribed exercises on your own, and correct you in terms of form and technique to ensure that you get the best outcomes without injuring yourself.
Your physical therapist at Virtual Therapy Partners can provide answers to all your questions during your online consultation and also give you therapy instructions that you can follow on your own time. Participating in a telehealth physical therapy session doesn’t require much. What you need is internet access via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. So, once you are connected, you will be able to carry on with your therapy from the comfort of your home or wherever you maybe at the time.
The Merits Of Telehealth Physical Therapy
It is one of the most important advantages of telehealth physical therapy. You don’t have to fret over transport, distance, taking time off work or school, or conflicts with some other appointment. All you have to do is to log in once you are ready, and your therapist will be there to assist you and start your session.
Telehealth therapy enhances communication between you and your physical therapist. This implies that you have your inquiries and complaints resolved quickly, and you will also receive the necessary feedback on how well you are doing your exercises. The physical therapists at Virtual Therapy Partners will monitor your progress effectively, and with the enhanced communication, your physical therapist has the information that he/she needs to effectively create your personalized rehabilitation program.
A private telehealth visit is free from distractions as you will be working one-on-one with your therapist from the privacy of home, work, or anywhere else. You have the liberty to involve caregivers, family members, or others in your appointment if you so wish.
High success rate
It has been demonstrated that people who subscribe to telehealth therapy services are more likely to adhere to their home exercise regimen. Your therapist will provide you with an effective, efficient, and safe home exercise program. The exercise program is tailored according to your individualized needs and goals. Adhering to your exercise plan is important for your long-term health and successful recovery post-surgery.
With adequate rehabilitation, complications are minimized. People who use telehealth physical therapy services are more likely to stick to their exercise plans, and they also have unlimited opportunities to communicate with their therapist, thus resulting in fewer complications.
Time and cost savings
Reduced cost is one of the major benefits of telehealth physical therapy after knee replacement surgery. You also save a great deal of time as there is no commute or waiting room. Once you are through with your appointment, you can continue with your activities of daily living without having to spend time or money on transportation. Furthermore, since your sessions start and end where you are, you do not have to leave work or school to do your sessions; therefore, you miss fewer working hours and minimize lost compensation or valuable education time.
Limitations Of Telehealth Physical Therapy
There is no doubt that telehealth physical therapy is a great solution. However, it does have some limitations compared to in-person physical therapy for orthopedic knee replacement surgery.
Assessments may be challenging
During telemedicine sessions, clinicians must rely heavily on patient self-reports. This can undermine treatment if a patient leaves out an essential symptom that would have otherwise been apparent during an in-person session. Therefore, teletherapy assessments may require the therapists to ask more questions to ensure a detailed history of health is obtained for an accurate diagnosis and assessment.
Limited treatment options
Like all physical therapy programs, a teletherapy program focuses on improving mobility and strengthening your musculoskeletal system to prevent injuries. Certain advantages of in-patient are the extra treatment tools and modalities the therapist can use for care delivery, such as manual therapy, cupping, and trigger point dry needling – procedures that can’t be done via telehealth physical therapy. To overcome this limitation, telehealth-based physical therapists must be experts in creatively having the patient use furniture and tools in their own environment to progress their sessions.
Reliance on non-clinical skills
Physical therapists already had many skills in their toolbox prior to the rise of telehealth. But many therapists will realize with the advent of virtual services that some of their non-clinical skills are either underdeveloped or nonexistent. Telehealth requires clinicians to think creatively and to maximize the patient's communication skills. Beyond clinical creativity, physical therapists who have embraced telehealth have had to learn new dimensions of patient engagement, communication savviness, and video call etiquette.
Who Is Eligible For Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Apart from people recovering from a knee replacement surgery, people of all ages with nearly any medical condition may be eligible for a telehealth physical therapy session. Examples of other conditions for which a virtual physical therapy may be beneficial include:
- Postoperative care
- Sports and athletic injuries
- Gait, balance, and fall prevention
- Chronic pain management
- Chronic disease management (diabetes, heart disease, etc.)
- Neurological conditions (Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.)
- Cancer rehabilitation