Wednesday, 30 October 2019

How New Technologies are Revolutionizing Physical Therapy



The healthcare industry is experiencing rapid change as a result of new technologies. With physical therapy being one field that is seeing some of the most significant changes, patient care is getting more efficient and more effective.

We now see robotics becoming more common in a physical therapy setting, and patients can now use a range of tools that can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. The technological tools are enabling direct access to physical therapy in New Jersey and other states across the nation. These advancements will provide patients with improved outcomes and physical therapy professionals will be able to achieve better results in less time.

With the latest tech on the horizon, patients and physical therapists can expect a much brighter future for rehabilitation services. The following are four of the trends that are helping to shape the future of patient care in physical therapy.

Apps for Physical Therapy

Smartphones and tablets have changed the modern world in a number of ways. We are now seeing smartphones moving into healthcare and that includes physical therapy. You have apps that can help patients with their physical therapy exercises. Beyond that, there are diagnostic tools that can be used on a phone and apps that help patients connect with physical therapy professionals.

One example is the Sway Medical app. This FDA-cleared app uses the sensors on a smartphone to perform tests for balance and reaction time. This can provide medical professionals with an easy way to test and get information on patients who have suffered some type of head injury.
Robotics

Different robotic systems are now showing great promise in physical therapy. One example is treadmills that use robotic legs to assist with gait training. With these systems, a harness holds the patient and a pair of robotic legs will help them walk.

As an extension of robotics, you also have exoskeletons that are helping patients relearn how to walk. Consider the ReWalk exoskeleton as an example. This lightweight exoskeleton can help the patient stand, sit, walk and turn. Some models can even climb stairs.

PT on a Gaming Console


Some physical therapists have been using video games for PT for some time. Much of this started with the Nintendo Wii, but it has gotten even better as video game technology has improved. With a device like the Microsoft Kinect, the motion-capture sensors allow the patient to move in a way that fits better with real-world movement. Games are even being designed specifically for the purposes of creating a better and more effective physical therapy experience.

PT in VR

Virtual reality is almost an extension of video games in physical therapy. When using VR for physical therapy, programs can be created to put the patient in a more pleasant environment. Developers can even make games that will encourage the patient to do various physical therapy exercises. With the right VR gear, the system can also collect data and track the patient’s progress.

These technologies are doing a lot of good in the physical therapy industry. Patients are seeing better outcomes than could have been expected in the past and PT professionals are able to help more patients with their time. These are significant benefits that are only going to increase as these technologies develop and become more accessible.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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