What is In-Home Physical Therapy?
In-home physical therapy is when a physical therapist goes to your home in order to provide treatment. This service is usually reserved for patients whose conditions do not allow them to leave their home. However, it can also be provided to many other patients.
Is In-Home Physical Therapy Effective?
Many people mistakenly believe that the quality of the physical therapy equipment is what makes or breaks rehabilitation. In reality, the exercises that are performed for “homework” by patients after a treatment session play a big role. Many times, people forget this aspect and do not follow through with post-treatment exercises. To address this, there are tools to help patients remember to do their physical therapy exercises. For example, the AC Health app allows physical therapists to make short videos demonstrating how to perform exercises. Therapists can also send push notifications with updates or announcements.
Another common misconception is that in-home physical therapy is not as effective as in-clinic therapy. On the contrary, there are many lightweight and portable equipment/tools that therapists can bring to in-home physical therapy sessions. Physical therapists are also trained to utilize all available resources to provide the best possible treatment experience for patients.
A research study examined the effects of in-home physical therapy after knee replacement surgery. Some patients had in-home care, and others were strictly outpatient only. The researchers concluded that there was no difference between the two groups in terms of movement and function of the knee. Therefore, in-home physical therapy is indeed effective.
Benefits of In-Home Physical Therapy
In-home physical therapy is effective, but also has many other benefits.
1. Patient Comfort
The greatest benefit of in-home physical therapy is comfort. Patients feel much more at ease when they are treated in the comfort of their own home. Most importantly, they are familiar with their environment. Traditional physical therapy requires patients to familiarize themselves with their PT clinic’s new surroundings. This would only add to the strain of recovery.
Studies have examined habituation as a key behavioral factor in humans. Overtime, repeated exposure to a stimulus causes a decrease in response. To put it simply, we get used to things. And we stop paying as much attention to something once we get used to it. On the other hand, we get assaulted by new stimuli in an unfamiliar environment. These overwhelming stimuli can disrupt our brain from focusing on our recovery and what really matters.
Our mental state and concentration are especially important during rehabilitation. As such, a familiar and comforting environment like home can make a big difference.
2. Resumption of Normal Routines and Activities
Physical therapists can treat patients based on their regular routines. At home, patients may need to walk up and down stairs or perform activities on a daily basis. Therapists can then give patients exercises and treatments that cater to the context of what they will be doing on a usual day. This customization is much more effective than only being treated in terms of the injury itself.
The main goal of physical therapy is to help patients resume normal activity. In-home care can help therapists better understand their patients and these activities. If a patient needs to walk to the mailbox everyday, then a therapist can focus on mobility. This personalization is invaluable for patient recovery.
3. Patient Accessibility
With in-home physical therapy, patients do not have to go through the hassle of going to a physical therapy clinic. The fact that patients have to go to a clinic on top of their other engagements is a barrier to the physical therapy industry as a whole. Patients already go to their primary care doctors and may shy away from going to physical therapy clinics as well.
At clinics, there is a lot of wasted time from a patient’s perspective. Patients must check in and wait in the waiting room before even getting to meet their therapist. Of course, there is also the commute back-and-forth. With in-home physical therapy, patients can immediately start their sessions as soon as their therapist arrives at their home. This makes patients more willing and likely to make more PT appointments.
Accessibility has another application. There are some patients whose conditions are extremely severe. Due to their injuries, they are physically unable to go to a clinic. Since they are not mobile, they will only consider therapists who can visit them at home. So, this key group of patients will pass over you if you do not offer in-home physical therapy.
4. Personal Connections
It is important to form a personal bond between patient and therapist. Personal bonds mean that patients will feel an attachment to you and your clinic. They also promote better patient retention. Many patients value a doctor’s personality – especially if they will regularly have appointments with them, as it is for physical therapists. Sometimes, patients choose therapists who have the ability to connect with them over those with more professional experience. After all, we are all human. And humans crave relationships and personal connections.
In-home physical therapy is a great way to form these connections. First off, patients have already (technically) invited you to their homes. An important step in relationships is visiting each other’s homes. Additionally, patients often feel more at ease at home and may be more open and willing to talk about their personal life.
When you are at a patient’s home, make sure to be observant. Keep an eye out for photos of family and pets. They are great conversation starters. Decorations can also reveal a lot about the patient. For example, you may see a poster for a sports team or a singer. These are all sneak peeks into a patient’s personal life that you should leverage.
In-home physical therapy clearly has many benefits. Patient comfort, resumption of normal routines, patient accessibility, and personal connections are a few. These reasons, among many others, are why you should perform in-home physical therapy. For more information on in-home therapy and the best tools to optimize recovery, contact us here.