Personalized home exercise programs are one of the most effective ways to ensure your physical therapy patients are on track for a long-lasting recovery. And while getting patients to stick to the program is no small feat, telehealth technology is making it much easier to keep your patients motivated and making great progress. Incorporating online options, such as video content and virtual sessions, into your physical therapy practice could make a huge difference to your patients’ outcomes.
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What are Home Exercise Programs?
A home exercise program, or HEP, is a set of therapeutic exercises that you give your patients to complete by themselves between in-person sessions with you. Usually, these exercises are tailored to meet a patient’s unique needs, and are given to them at their initial evaluation. You’ll go through each exercise to make sure they have proper form, and then instruct them to complete the movements at home.
What are the benefits of having your physical therapy patients do home exercises?
HEPs come with a range of important physical and mental benefits. The right program can:
- Help patients reach their recovery goals faster. Studies show that patients who stick to their HEP tend to meet goals, such as regaining physical function or minimizing pain, significantly faster than those who don’t.
- Help patients to achieve more at in-person sessions. When your patients work on foundational movements between sessions with you, they’ll be better equipped to try more advanced techniques or treatments at their appointments.
- Motivate patients to be more active. Getting into the habit of consistent exercise lets many patients experience the benefits that come with an active lifestyle. Continuing to exercise after recovery is great for their overall health, and decreases the risk of future injury.
- Increase confidence. A HEP often also comes with mental benefits. As patients keep successfully performing the exercises and seeing results, they tend to feel more optimistic and confident about their recovery.
What are the downsides to PT home exercise programs?
Although HEPs are shown to be highly effective, there’s one major downside: getting patients to stick to the program. When patients actually do the exercises, they tend to see great results, but many patients don’t follow the program consistently. In fact, research suggests that as many as 50-65% of patients with general musculoskeletal conditions, and 50-70% of patients with lower back pain, don’t fully adhere to their HEP.
The reason for low adherence varies between patients. The majority of physical therapy patients claim that they’re just too busy or that they forgot. Others have psychological symptoms holding them back, such as depression or doubts that the program will work. Pain during exercise is also fairly common.
But since HEPs for PT can be so effective, it’s crucial that physical therapists are aware of these barriers and try to break them down. Modern technology is one of the most useful ways that healthcare providers can help patients adhere to their HEP.
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How can telehealth improve home exercise program adherence?
Online care and telehealth options are on the rise in many areas of medicine, including physical therapy. If you’re struggling to get your patients to stick to their HEP, you might benefit from incorporating telehealth services into your practice. Telehealth allows you to:
- Create videos of exercises. Sharing a video of each prescribed movement will be highly beneficial to patients who have forgotten how to do it, or are struggling with pain due to incorrect form.
- Offer ongoing guidance. If your patient is struggling with a certain exercise, they can simply send you a quick message to ask about it. This is far better than having them wait to talk to you in person, and avoiding the exercise until then.
- Allow you to have virtual sessions. Virtual sessions are a great and flexible option, enabling you to connect with patients who can’t come in for an in-person session.
- Share a range of content with your patients. Send helpful resources such as video links, educational content, and reminder messages to your patients.
Try Healthie to support home exercise programs for physical therapy
Healthie is a comprehensive telehealth platform, making it easy to create video content and automatically distribute it to your patients. With Healthie, you can:
- Create personalized online programs for your patients.
- Easily share content in a range of formats, including videos, emails, assessment forms, and more.
- Automate how content is sent to patients, so you can make sure they’re receiving helpful resources when they need them.
- Share post-session Care Plans and treatment recommendations.
- Complete virtual sessions - which can then be uploaded and shared within Healthie’s HIPAA-compliant platform as a truly personalized home care regimen.
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