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Photo: woman holding up an ipad Instead of going to the doctor's office for physical therapy, you could stay home. When it's time for your appointment, you'll open your computer. Then connect on Skype or log into your doctor's website. Now it's time for your in-person, live video consultation.

This is Telehealth

Telehealth systems allow people to have live consultations from their own home. Patients see their doctor, nurse or physical therapist online. They are available to answers questions. The telehealth system will also provide videos to guide patients through physical therapy. Healthcare providers and technology companies are busy expanding telehealth services. Medicare will reimburse doctors who make live video consultations. This is encouraging news for people who have suffered strokes. They can go home from the hospital to continue with their rehabilitation. Stroke survivors usually move into a rehabilitation ward or nursing facility. There, they receive regular physical therapy to improve their movement and speech. Being able to provide physical therapy to stroke survivors is critical to recovery. Studies show positive results for folks who use "telerehab." According to Dr. Steven C. Cramer, Neurologist at University of California Irvine Health, telerehab can improve motor functions in stroke survivors. In his study, 124 stroke patients underwent six weeks of physical therapy to regain use in their arms.
  • Half the patients received traditional in-clinic therapy with a physical therapist.
  • The other half underwent an in-home supervised rehabilitation program by video conferencing.
  • Patients who received physical therapy at home recovered as well as "in-clinic" patients.
Other studies show similar results.

The House Call of The Future

The benefits of telerehab are:
  • The emotional support of being at home.
  • Not having to arrange and travel to physical therapy appointments.
  • A less stressful and easier process.
  • Avoiding the cost of a skilled nursing facility.

Would You Prefer Telerehab Over A Facility?

More than half of adults say they would be comfortable with a video visit with their doctor or nurse. This is according to a recent survey by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs at the University of Chicago. Home-based telerehab could be a huge support to caregivers, saving them time and money.

Go Ahead, Ask for Telerehab

The best time to ask about telerehab is when your parent is first treated. Also ask when your parent needs physical therapy or ongoing monitoring. Telehealth tools are increasingly becoming available through different healthcare networks. Don’t hesitate to ask. Your doctor may call it telerehab or video rehab. Telerehab can guide you and your parent to be consistent, positive, and organized during stroke recovery. For the caregiver, telerehab saves time and measures progress. These new technologies can transform medicine and improve healthcare for many. The time will come when telerehab will be available for a long list of ailments and illnesses.

Read: Stroke Care: What You Need to Know About Stroke Rehabilitation Centers Read: Can the Brain Heal Itself After a Stroke? Read: 5 Things Every Caregiver Should Know About Stroke Care

About the Author(s)

As a Volunteer Caregiver to the Zen Hospice Project and a Course Manager at the CareGivers Project, Audrey Meinertzhagen is passionate about improving the standards of care for older adults and educating caregivers on the principles of mindfulness and self-care.

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