Physical therapy goes virtual due to COVID-19

Physical therapy goes virtual due to COVID-19

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If you’ve had to visit a doctor lately, odds are you’ve had a visit over video chat.

The shift to digital appointments is very new to one health field, but it may not be going away.

Ledesma Sports Medicine may not seem busy these days, but just because there isn’t much traffic walking through the front door, doesn’t mean folks aren’t being helped.

Diane Thompson is one of the practice’s clients. She had a full knee replacement just over a month ago, but making a trip out, even for her needed physical therapy, is a scary proposition.

“I have some respiratory issues, so I’m in that at risk category," said Thompson.

So now, physical therapist Ernest Ledesma is coming to her over a video chat. For a very hands-on type of medicine Ledesma says it’s proving to be an effective alternative.

“Although you can’t actually put your hands on the patient, we can pretty accurately have a patient go through and do it in the right form, and they have the benefit of immediate feedback," said Ledesma.

It may not be emergency medical care, but Ledesma says physical therapy is vital for those going through it. For a patient like Diane bouncing back from a surgery, having her therapy interrupted for a prolonged period of time could be devastating to her recovery.

“They may not get full range of motion, full mobility in their limb. They may not ever get full strength. They may not have the ability to perform certain functional activities."

Ledesma says in office visits will again be the way to go once this pandemic is over. But he adds these e-visits could open up brand new avenues for folks they previously had never been able to serve.

“If a patient just has no ability, they just can’t afford to get to you, we have the ability to do it on a more individual basis and still get access to physical therapy.”

Diane will continue to roll along in her therapy. She says she’s looking forward to getting back to her active life.

“I would say my main motivation would be to be able to play golf again.”

And thanks to technology, not even a pandemic will keep her from that goal.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.