Seasoned physical therapists (PTs) have highly skilled abilities to not only ask the right questions at the right time but also to listen and observe their patients’ responses. This includes not only the words used, but also the tone, order, and emphasis on how that patient chooses to describe what ails them. Using these skills combined with a review of that person’s detailed medical history, the PT can often have a very good idea what they will find in a physical examination. These findings are often confirmed (or eliminated) when the PTs requests for the patient to perform test movements (for example: a squat, reaching to “touch your toes,” or bending backward) observing movement patterns as well as the patient’s limitations compared to expected patterns. In this way, areas commonly assessed during a physical exam, like strength, range of motion, or walking patterns, can be reviewed just as accurately as if the patient was on-site.
Treatment techniques such as manual therapy or dry needling obviously cannot be performed during a telehealth visit. However, these are just a few tools at the disposal of the PT to supplement exercise. Through video physical therapists can observe how you move, demonstrate movements, provide and coach you through exercises to ensure correct form, and identify barriers to function.
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