Report sets out future of digital physical therapy practice

The WCPT executive board has published a report setting out the future of digital physical therapy practice.

The report, jointly produced by WCPT and the International Network of Physiotherapy Regulatory Authorities (INPTRA), recognises the development and implementation of digital physical therapy practice and sets out key considerations and recommendations to ensure the global physical therapy profession is able to maximize the opportunities that digital practice offers.

Jonathon Kruger, WCPT chief executive officer, said: ‘This is a timely report that will help our member organisations and their individual members.

‘Many physical therapists are grappling with the complexity of COVID-19 and the challenges of working in a digital space. This report clearly articulates the issues physical therapists will need to consider as they shift to working virtually to provide telehealth for people in need.

‘Physical therapists can be part of a global direction that focuses on safety, efficiency, acceptability, and effectiveness – with the people who need those services at the core.’

The report sets out the factors to be considered when assessing whether digital physical therapy practice is appropriate for potential individual service users. These include:

  • health issue(s) that can or cannot be addressed by digital practice
  • urgency of the presenting issue(s)
  • risk or benefit associated with distance and cost to the if one must travel for an in-person visit
  • preference
  • availability of support and caregivers to assist the as needed

The use of modern technologies and digital practices afford the physical therapy profession a great opportunity to engage with a wide range of audiences to better effect and impact. It can result in services being delivered in a way that people want, provide resources and information more easily and swiftly, support service design and easier access, and encourage global learning and collaborative opportunities.

The report recommends further work to:

  • broaden the survey of countries and territories profiled
  • consider specific technologies that are being or could be used by physical therapists, such as robotics, sensors, wearable devices, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence
  • explore the use and application of social media.

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Digital physical therapy practice report