Licensed physical therapists in Rhode Island help their patients recover from injuries, manage medical conditions, and improve the quality of their lives. While physical therapy has been around for quite some time, recent advances in technology and other innovations have led to new treatments and innovative techniques that make the process even more effective and efficient than before.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top innovations in physical therapy over the past several years.
Red Light Therapy
Did you know that red light therapy is one of the newest innovations coming out of physical therapy today? Red light, also known as infrared light, can be used to treat chronic pain or inflammation. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), many individuals opt for red light therapy when other treatments have failed to alleviate chronic pain. Simply stated, it’s one of today’s top innovations in physical therapy.
Robotics and Wearable Technology
Physical therapists are increasingly turning to robotics, wearable technology, and virtual reality to help patients with everything from flexibility training to injury prevention. These technologies are becoming an important part of physical therapists’ rehabilitative care and will likely play a big role in physical therapy practices moving forward.
In a study conducted by a researcher at the George Washington University Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, 83% of physical therapists said they believed Wii-hab had a place in rehabilitation programs. Moreover, 88% said they would recommend it to their patients with similar medical conditions. While Wii-hab can’t take on all of a patient’s rehab needs, it is beneficial to a more conventional treatment plan.
Concierge and Subscription-Based Businesses
The growth of concierge and subscription-based businesses shows that consumers are ready to pay more for a product or service if it’s truly worth it. In other words, they’re willing to pay a premium if they don’t have to spend time trying to figure out how to do something themselves.
Physical therapists are increasingly incorporating telemedicine into their practice, allowing them to work closely with patients who may not come into their offices for regular treatments. This is especially useful for people who live far away from big cities or large hospitals or those with medical conditions that prevent them from traveling at all. While many physical therapists still see their patients face-to-face, even scheduling remotely using technology like Skype and FaceTime, others are turning almost exclusively to telemedicine.
One of these top innovations is virtual reality, a technology that has been in use since its introduction by Morton Heilig in 1962. Using a VR headset and a computer, patients can immerse themselves in an environment controlled by their physical therapist—like walking through a museum or sitting on a beach. Studies have found VR to effectively treat conditions like chronic pain and mobility impairment caused by strokes.
In a hospital setting, physical therapists work with patients for about two hours daily. A physical therapist may work with a patient from three to six times weekly in an outpatient facility. Therapists in either setting use collaborative care, which combines treatment and prevention strategies to help patients achieve optimal results. This is made possible by teamwork between physical therapists and other healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, and athletic trainers.
Hybrid Virtual Practices
Physical therapists are starting to leverage technology to provide more efficient, convenient, and cost-effective patient services. One of these innovations is creating a hybrid virtual practice that merges both traditional brick-and-mortar clinical offices with online video conferencing. By doing so, physical therapists can offer appointments during off-hours while providing patients with 24/7 access to consultations.
Why Is Innovation Important in Physical Therapy?
Providing state-of-the-art care to patients is a top priority for physical therapists. However, just because something has been around for a long time doesn’t mean it’s not innovative or important. In many cases, improving on an existing method is actually more challenging than inventing a new one.
It’s not just professional athletes who benefit from physical therapy—we all can. To maintain a healthy body and mind, you should regularly schedule physical therapy sessions with your local physical therapist in Rhode Island. These expert practitioners will help diagnose and treat any musculoskeletal problems that might arise and prevent future injuries.