Physical therapy is not the same as it was in the past. With such advancements in technologies, as well as other factors, physical therapy has seen to be changing every year.
In this article, we will talk about the top 10 trends that are shaping the physical therapy industry in 2021:
In the year 2021 with an ongoing pandemic, most individuals still avoid and are reluctant to attend physiotherapy sessions to avoid getting infected with the virus. Therefore, because of this, telerehab will continue to be seen in high demand. Even when the pandemic comes to an end, telerehab won’t decrease in demand, mainly due to its convenience.
With the help of advancements in technologies, even patients in rural areas can easily connect with specialty healthcare providers with the help of telerehab. Moreover, parents can enjoy the benefits of physiotherapy without having to arrange childcare, and people with limited mobility can also be treated in the comfort of their own homes.
According to one of the therapists working in physical therapy Dallas center, “telerehab is more than just a video conference with patients. These are basically comprehensive solutions that offer everything- from creating exercise plans to staying in touch with the patients and even remote patient monitoring”.
2. Gamified Rehabilitation Apps for Patient Engagement
Patient engagement has a key role in determining the success of treatment in physiotherapy. Even the best exercise plan can fail unless the patient doesn’t actually perform the prescribed movements themselves.
Not every physiotherapy exercise is fun. Apart from the boring exercises, constant lockdowns in the pandemic have resulted in more boredom and mundaneness. Because of these reasons, Gamified rehab is a trend that is predicted not to go away anytime soon. Gaming apps are now being incorporated into physical therapy processes in order to make the patient’s experiences less stressful and more fun. This entertainment value helps to stimulate patient recovery and also motivates them towards improvement.
Gamified rehabilitation apps help provide an engaging and rewarding patient experience. The app consists of games that help trigger the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for motivation, a good mood, and learning. When these dopamine levels drop, patients would want to play again so that they can enjoy another dopamine boost.
A prominent example of a gamified rehab is ‘Raccoon’. This app lets its patients do their home exercise programs while playing fun video games as well. All the movements in the game are prescribed by therapists.
3. AI and Ml as Assistance for Physiotherapists
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been in popular demand. Both have the potential to transform every industry, including healthcare as well.
Both AI and ML help spend lesser time writing clinical notes and trying to google the latest treatment guidelines as well. It’s like having an assistant by your side all the time who uses a vast knowledge in order to help you analyze and differentiate between similar diagnoses and evaluate patient data. All this would not have been possible without AI and ML.
No computer can replace your intuition, as well as your experience. However, AI-powered healthcare solutions have been known to help people with data analysis, as well as automating routine tasks.
4. Changes in Physical Therapy Reimbursement
The main goal of every organization or company is to cut costs. This includes health insurance companies as well. Therefore, it is crucial for people to expand their businesses and offer extra services to diversify the revenue as well. An example of such a service can be remote rehab, which is a great way to treat more patients in less time.
Moreover, this has been recognized and reimbursed in several leading countries, including Germany and Poland.
5. Wearable Technologies for Better Results
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are examples of wearable technologies. These wearables can provide users with valuable information about their health, as well as feedback on their exercise habits. There are specialized physiotherapy devices that help its users track and analyze specific movements, and also provide the therapist with valuable data.
For instance, there is also a rise in game controllers, that helps customers recover from hand injuries. This helps combine gaming, rehabilitation, and remote patient monitoring.
Therefore, with the help of wearable technologies, remote physical therapy has become a viable alternative to in-person treatments.
6. Data-Driven Decisions
The economic crisis has led all businesses to adjust their strategies and processes, also cutting costs and maintaining customer loyalty at the same time. This goes for health care providers as well.
Therefore, in 2021, data is going to play a crucial role in all aspects of the healthcare industry. Rehabilitation software helps provide its users with a wealth of valuable insights into their patients’ experience. Patients who are struggling with their home exercise program can be detected easily, their progress can be tracked, and their HEP can also be tracked.
HEP can also be modified, can provide feedback, and address potential problems as soon as they arise.
7. Focus on Patient Safety
Patient safety has always been the top priority, as no physiotherapist would want their patients to hurt themselves and cause more problems. In 2020, physical therapists began wearing personal protective equipment, disinfecting every surface, and switching to remote treatments to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Remote treatments have the consequence of data security. Cybercriminals target healthcare institutions as they usually store a lot of personal data.
8. Aquatic Therapy
The low impact and gravity-defying effects of aquatic therapy have made it a popular demand. Not only does it help provide resistance, but also makes it uniquely helpful to several types of patients. This type of therapy is particularly beneficial to patients who suffer from joint pain, extreme obesity, or other mobility-limiting factors.
9. Physical Therapy from a Whole Body Perspective
Many therapists are becoming more in favor of approaching physical therapy from a holistic perspective. This trend is going to continue to rise in 2021 as well. For physical therapists, this means integration of safe and alternative treatment options, keeping traditional manual or rehab therapy practices side by side as well. This trend will rise mainly because patients are continuing to gain more interest in these alternative treatment options.
10. Dry Needling
Dry needling use very thin stainless steel needles that are inserted into the trigger points within the muscles. This process relaxes the tightness of muscle spasms and joint pain by stimulating the surrounding tissue, providing pain relief, and increasing the range of motion. Moreover, dry needling usually focuses on just the painful areas. It is also very useful for sports injuries, soreness after accidents, or even repetitive strains.