Telerehabilitation delivers rehabilitation services using technologies such as the internet and allows patients or clients to connect with occupational therapists remotely. Telerehabilitation can be provided in various ways, including real-time visits with video and audio using a computer or over the telephone. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a greater need for telerehabilitation services and required occupational therapists and other healthcare professions to adapt to how they traditionally would work with clients. The global pandemic has sparked an increase in research studying examining the use of telerehabilitation in occupational therapy practice. A study by Hung and Fong (2019) investigating the effects of telerehabilitation in occupational therapy practice suggests positive effects on improving function with many different populations and ages. However, further and more robust research needs to be completed to confirm these results.
There are several advantages of using telerehabilitation over traditional face-to-face rehabilitation. For example, telerehabilitation provides convenient access to care for all people, including those who may have accessibility challenges. Telerehabilitation promotes access for people living in rural or remote areas and may not have occupational therapists working in their area. Telerehabilitation has several disadvantages, as well. For example, telerehabilitation limits occupational therapists and clients' ability to develop a personal connection. Telerehabilitation can challenge treatment planning if adaptive devices or other environmental modifications are implemented.
Success tips for occupational therapists when using telerehabilitation:
-acknowledge the advantages and barriers to the traditional practice
-recognize that therapist and client expectations may need to be adjusted
-reconstruct traditional service delivery methods for telerehabilitation use
-maintain focus on the engagement of valued occupations
Hung KN, G., & Fong, K. N. (2019). Effects of telerehabilitation in occupational therapy practice: A systematic review. Hong Kong Journal of Occupational Therapy, 32(1), 3-21.