How Technology Is Modernising Physical Therapy

Alexandra Warner
February 7, 2019

Technology has always played a crucial role in healthcare. Wellness providers consistently rely on new innovations to better serve their patients. Physical therapists are no different. In recent years, emerging technologies, from direct access physical therapy to robotic advancements, have dramatically impacted physical therapy in ways that benefit everyone. The following examples illustrate how:

Improving Research

Research is important in all forms of medical care. Experts need to analyze data to better understand how to offer the best possible treatment, boost diagnostic accuracy, and more.

That’s easier than ever thanks to new technology. Digital tools are capable of analyzing research results far more efficiently and consistently than humans. This gives physical therapy professionals greater opportunities to focus on more valuable tasks, while also allowing them to draw conclusions from research far more quickly than they once could.

Technology has also given healthcare providers more information about patients. For instance, one recent study involved tracking the recovery of stroke patients by asking them to wear sensor-equipped suits beneath their clothes for several months. Researchers conducting similar studies in the past would have been limited to tracking patient movement in clinical settings. With a suit constantly monitoring patient movement, researchers could track their recovery over a long span of time in a variety of normal situations. This gives them more data from which to learn.

Gaming for Exercise

Physical therapy is an effective treatment for many ailments, but it often involves performing exercises that some patients may find tedious or difficult. That’s why researchers have developed video games which involve performing the types of exercises associated with a physical therapy treatment plan. The dynamic quality of the gaming experience makes exercise more appealing to patients. Over time, it can also help those with limited mobility gain greater independence.

Constant Communication

People in need of physical therapy or similar treatments must often complete lengthy care programs. This may involve several visits with a physical therapist or medical professional. Sometimes, the nature of these programs causes patients to abandon them before treatment is complete.

Digital technology solutions help change that. With telehealth innovations, patients and healthcare providers can stay in contact far more easily. This reduces the need for in-person visits and boosts the odds that patients will complete their treatment programs.

Robotic Recovery

Robots aren’t sci-fi fantasies anymore. These very real tools are changing life in many ways. For physical therapy patients, they’re assisting in recovery. For instance, one new robotic harness developed by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology researchers helps patients learn to walk again after injury or illness by monitoring their gait and applying pressure (while also providing support) when an aspect of their stride needs to be corrected.

These examples provide a brief but revealing glimpse into the way technology is continuing to improve physical therapy for patients. Physical therapists are always leveraging the right tools to offer the right treatment. These are just some of the new tools they have to work with.

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