Paediatric Physiotherapy via Telehealth - FAQs
Updated: Aug 24
Covid-19 has challenged the way that we help children and their families. Although 2020 has been a steep learning curve, as a team we are finding ourselves pleasantly surprised by how effective Telehealth can be, often celebrating the successes we have had helping children during the week via Telehealth appointments during our team meetings.
Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about paediatric physiotherapy via Telehealth.
Do I need to be confident with technology to do a Telehealth appointment?
No! We will send you an email with a hyperlink, and to access your appointment you simply click on the link. You do not need to download any software.
What sort of device should I use? What if I don't know where to position the device?
We recommend using a device that is easy to move around. We will provide you with with direction on where to position the device so we can observe your child's movement from different angles to complete a full assessment. A laptop works well because the screen can be tilted, but an iPad or phone propped up works well too.
Why do Telehealth? Why not wait until I can do a face to face appointment?
The Royal Children's Hospital in their recent video post urged families to keep up their child's healthcare during the lockdown period rather than putting health on hold, accessing healthcare remotely where possible. Children have been shown to be significantly less active during Covid-19 due to having less incidental exercise like walking to/from school and around the community, accessing playground equipment and large outdoor spaces and attending organised sport. It is so important to be proactive about addressing healthcare concerns and creating opportunities to develop motor skill development during this time.
What can you achieve over Telehealth?
There is lots we can do via Telehealth, so the answer to this question has been broken down into sections.
Paediatric Physiotherapists are highly skilled in the observation and analysis of movement. By analysing your child's movement patterns we can determine the type of intervention needed. Therefore, as long as the picture is clear enough, we are still able to do a comprehensive assessment. There are many formal assessments we are able to complete via telehealth to obtain an accurate picture of the child's developmental level.
If there is difficulty observing a specific movement during the live session or a problem with picture clarity/connection during the appointment, video analysis is a very effective way of analysing movement afterwards because we can watch the movement in slow motion.
For treatment, most of what we prescribe is play-based exercises which can be demonstrated by your Physiotherapist on screen, by instructing the parent how to position/assist the child during the exercise, or by showing pictures/videos using the 'share screen' function. For children who have difficulty staying on task or following instructions, we can still use visual schedules to provide structure and to motivate the child.
Telehealth provides a great opportunity to discuss problems and brainstorm and educate parents how to navigate them. This might include a 'Routines Based Intervention' approach - identifying ways Physiotherapy exercises can be incorporated into everyday routines and educating parents how to identify opportunities throughout the day and in different settings to enhance the child's physical development.
For children with ongoing needs, goal setting is very important to measure progress over time and ensure therapy is targeted towards what is important to the family/child. As goal-setting is mostly carried out through conversation, Telehealth is a great platform for this.
For children with complex conditions or ongoing needs, it's so important to bring the team around the child together to share expertise, brainstorm techniques that work well for the child, and identify the goals of each discipline. Parents often comment how helpful they find team meetings as a way of making sure everyone involved is on the same page and working together rather than separately. Team meetings can involve allied health professionals, educators, parents/caregivers, medical staff, carers and any other significant people involved in the child's care.
If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us and we can provide more specific information about whether we think Telehealth would work for your child.