How does Telehealth stand up to conventional Physiotherapy?

The last few months have been strange for us all and it appears as if we've got a long way to go until life will be completely back to normal. That includes us here at Physio Form. Rather than shutting down completely we've been providing innovative Telehealth consultations with great success, but what does the evidence say? 

This article will examine a physiotherapy literature review paper that evaluates the effectiveness of Telehealth interventions. It's worth noting at this point, that this study was done in 2016, long before Covid-19 so won't contain biases towards promoting the industry. So far, our results are speaking for themselves but as practitioners we like to back everything up with science...

Objective

To evaluate the effectiveness of treatment delivered via Telehealth for the management of musculoskeletal conditions, and to determine if Telehealth consultations are comparable to conventional Physiotherapy methods. 

Method 

The authors performed a search across 6 databases in November of 2016. They screened just shy of 6000 studies and included 1520 of them in their review. All studies had to meet strict inclusion criteria and had to demonstrate no major flaws or bias. 

Results 

In terms of improvement of physical function and reduction in pain, it was discovered that Telehealth consultations alone, actually,  outperformed conventional Physiotherapy interventions. Interestingly, the intervention that yielded the greatest improvements was a combination of physical treatments/assessment with remote follow ups. 

Conclusion

Off the back of this research they concluded that Telehealth appears to be effective and comparable to conventional physiotherapy methods for improvement of physical function and reduction in pain for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. As a practitioner, I love these results! Not only does it confirm that what we are doing in this time of need is worth while, but also that lifestyle advice and exercise remain the two foundations on which physiotherapy is built.