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Due to the current situation in which we find ourselves, a necessary step had to be taken to step out of our comfort zone. For the safety of both patients and therapists, telemedicine is a new concept that has taken the physiotherapy world by storm.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine or telerehabilitation is the use of electronics to deliver healthcare or rehabilitation at a distance, without face-to-face physical contact between the patient and therapist. Using any platform, such as Zoom, WhatsApp, or Skype, a consultation is made possible.

What can we do during telemedicine?

A thorough history or subjective assessment is used as the foundation and most important aspect of telemedicine. We use the subjective assessment to listen to your complaint, the history of your injury or concern, past relevant history as well as a few social questions to determine the possible cause and diagnosis of your concern. The subjective assessment also gives us clues as to what to use in your treatment plan. We can then go on to do an objective assessment. Using movements that the patient does by him/herself and with the use of other equipment we can perform tests to confirm our suspected diagnosis. The patient may need to do self-palpation or perform certain tests on themselves with the help of guidance from the therapist.

A treatment plan based on exercises, advice and education can then be given to address the injury or concern.

What can’t we do during telemedicine?

Due to the nature of telemedicine, certain aspects of a physical consultation will be excluded. This includes certain passive movements, certain special tests as well as palpation. With regards to treatment, there will be no hands-on treatment given, but advice or guidance on how to do certain hands-on therapies will be given to the patient if deemed necessary.

Which is better, face -to-face or telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a fairly new concept and more research is required in order to make a decision on whether this is a superior or inferior method of consulting. However, from the studies that have already been done, it shows that telemedicine can be effective in treating musculoskeletal disorders or injuries and have a positive outcome on pain and physical limitations.