Technology is unlikely ever to completely replace a physical therapist, but it can certainly help make our job easier and improve the care that we give to patients. We’ve seen some major technological advancements in just the last few years that have drastically changed how patients progress through a physical therapy program, and we’re excited to see what the future holds. In today’s blog, we’re going to look at some of the major technological advancements that are helping PTs provide the best care to their patients.
How Tech Is Helping PT Patients
We lean on technology in a number of different ways each day at our clinic to help ensure that our patients get the best care. Here’s a look at some of the technology we use and some other tech products that are helping advance the world of patient care.
- Diagnostic Imaging – Imaging techniques have been around for decades, but the technology keeps improving and making it easier for doctors and physical therapists to get clear images inside a person’s body. We can use X-rays to assess bone health, MRIs to see detailed pictures of joints, and other devices like CT scans or ultrasound technology to provide a clear view of specific structures inside the body.
- Wearables – Wearables have become much more popular in the last decade, and not always in a clinical setting. Many people wear smartwatches, FitBits or other fitness trackers to measure important health data. Wearables can also be helpful in a clinic setting because they can track how a person’s heart or lungs are responding to activity or how their balance is affected by specific activities. These wearable devices can also oftentimes wirelessly transmit this fitness data to the doctor or physical therapist so that it’s easier to track progress or changes.
- AI – We’ve already published a blog on the rise of artificial intelligence and what it means for the physical therapy community, so head on over to this blog post if you want a more detailed look into the world of AI and PT. Artificial intelligence can provide possible diagnoses based on symptom input and recommend specific exercises based on a diagnosis. As we mentioned in the article, AI can also help identify when a patient is not performing an exercise as intended and help make corrections to the movement patterns it’s analyzing. Artificial intelligence will certainly have a major impact on the physical therapy world and the healthcare community in the coming years.
- Telehealth Care – Spurred by the need to ensure patients had access to physical therapy guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic when large gatherings were not recommended, many clinics added telehealth consultations as a way to keep seeing patients. We added telehealth visits, and they became so popular that we continued to offer them even now that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. You can see a physical therapist from a clinic of your choosing so long as you have a smartphone, laptop or tablet and a cellular or internet connection. This saves patients a lot of time driving to and from appointments, ensuring that their care better fits in their schedule.
- 3D Printing – 3D printing is also helping patients receive highly individualized care from their providers. Physical therapists can help print or order orthotics that are built to their exact foot shape, ensuring that pressure is displaced exactly as needed to help strengthen structures or improve foot function. Being able to create an assistive device to a person’s exact specifications can provide an even higher level of care and improve recovery outcomes.
These are just a few of the ways that technology is being used to improve the patient experience in the physical therapy world, and we’re excited to see what the next revolutionary technology is in the world of physical therapy. To see these devices in action, or to connect to a physical therapist about an issue you’re experiencing, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.