Veterinary Telehealth for Physical Therapy and Rehab
Veterinary rehabilitation and physical therapy is an amazing service that can help so many pets! Physical therapy aims to provide relief from pain, expedite healing, build strength, and return to function. This type of service requires patience, time, and many rechecks. Integrating Anipanion telehealth into a rehabilitation treatment plan can be a great adjunct for you and your clientele.
Consider a telehealth appointment if an in-house modality is not required or to check on the patient more frequently. Hold pet parents accountable and ensure they are performing the recommended treatments at home and doing so correctly. Since rehabilitation is not a quick fix and is highly individualized for the pet, frequent communication between the veterinarian and pet parent is hugely important. Utilizing Anipanion’s chat or real-time video feature can help make this communication more efficient for you and the pet parent.
Utilize Anipanion telehealth in physical therapy to:
Sometimes clinical symptoms can be masked by stress and adrenaline when patients come in-clinic. Watch how they move at home in a stress free environment using Anipanion’s real time feature. Check in with pet parents the day after a new treatment was utilized. Have the symptoms improved or worsened with the addition of a new modality?
Help pet parents perform treatments
Have the pet parents perform the recommended at-home treatments with you on video, so you can assist them with any questions they have or provide helpful tips and constructive criticism on their techniques. You can also show clients how to perform specific treatments on your side of the camera or send links to videos or pictures to help as well. Have them set up their camera/computer on a table, aimed at open floor space where they can work with their pet and demonstrate the exercises.
Alter or adjust treatment plan as needed
Physical therapy and rehab involves lots of creativity and flexibility to adapt each protocol to the individual patient and their specific needs. Although hydrotherapy might be the best option for a specific pet with an orthopedic injury, the particular patient may hate water. Similarly, a pet may be willing to do passive range of motion at home, but the pet parent may be unable to commit to the time or has a disability that precludes the pet parent from completing certain at-home care. Using telehealth can be a great tool to adapt to the pet parent and patient’s needs. If the patient is improving or worsening, communication through chat or real time video can be used to adapt and adjust the treatment plan without leaving home.
Schedule in hospital services
Discuss the in hospital services and modalities available with your pet parents. Most clients are unaware of the benefits of treadmills, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and cold laser therapy for their pets. Use this time to educate and describe how these modalities will be used in the patient’s treatment plan. Forward book the patient for in-hospital services during your telehealth session.
Show clients their pets while in-clinic
Clients love pictures and videos of their pets. Send the pet parent a video of the pet swimming, in the underwater treadmill, or receiving acupuncture. The clients will love to see how well their pets are doing with their physical therapy treatments and can see the quality work you are doing for them as well!
Flexibility in Scheduling
Allow yourself a work from home day in which you schedule only telehealth appointments once or twice per week. This allows you to practice best medicine by checking in with your patients more frequently, monitoring their progress, and altering treatment plans while you and they are in a comfortable home environment.
Rehabilitation Telehealth Example:
- 8 yo MN GSD named Charley approximately 85lbs
- Previous GDV 2 year ago, successful surgical repair
- Suffers from Degenerative Myelopathy
- No other previous medical issue
- UTD vaccines and is on regular preventive care
- Charley presents to you for physical therapy to be able to get up and down the stairs better and to get in and out of the car.
- The pet parent is unable to pick Charley up to aid in his mobility due to Charley’s size and the pet parent has had back issues himself.
After your initial exam and discussion with the pet parent, you create an initial treatment plan for Charley to improve core strength, balance, and coordination. You start with twice weekly underwater treadmill sessions along with in-clinic exercises and treatments. After the first assessment is complete, you provide an at-home therapeutic regimen for Charley and his owner to complete daily consisting of passive and active range of motion and balancing exercises. You show the pet parent how to perform each step and send home educational pamphlets to aid in the therapy.
Schedule a real-time video session for the next day. This allows you to see how Charley is doing after his physical therapy session the day before, answer questions from the pet parent, and aid in the at-home therapy you recommended. You also can evaluate how Charley moves in his natural environment at home.
The following week, the pet parent drops Charley off for his physical therapy sessions, but you are unable to speak with the client since he needs to get to his own doctor’s appointment. You schedule once weekly telehealth sessions to discuss Charley’s progress with the client and make adjustments to the treatment plan since Charley is showing improvement.
The client is unable to make Charley’s next in-clinic appointment, but chats with you through Anipanion about Charley’s progress and questions he has. Through chat you are able to make adjustments to his at-home regimen.
As Charley progresses over the next few weeks to months with his in-clinic and at-home therapeutic regimen, you reduce the frequency of telehealth communication to once monthly to continue to monitor progress. The client is happy and satisfied because of the open communication, clear expectations, and overall high quality care Charley has been receiving from you. Charley can get in and out of the car and is able to walk up the steps to get into the house.
In Charley’s example, integrating telehealth allowed better communication with the client, which in turn provided better overall care for Charley. His pet parent was able to receive help at home with Charley’s exercises and have his questions answered. He was held accountable for completing Charley’s at-home therapy and frequent adjustments to his treatment were made. Telehealth also allowed for you to have these discussions with Charley’s pet parent at home, so you could go to your daughter’s soccer game, or trivia night, or date night, or exercise class, etc.
Quality care in veterinary medicine is constantly increasing with better medicine and treatment options and telehealth is playing a vital role. Meet the needs of the consumer and offer better patient care, while allowing more flexibility in your work day with Anipanion telehealth appointments.