PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The study’s major findings were:
1) There were no clinically important differences in functional status outcomes between matched samples using and not using telerehabilitation;
2) Overall episodes involving telerehabilitation had significantly fewer visits (0.7 to 1.3) compared to in-person office visit care alone; and
3) Although the majority of patients were very satisfied with their treatment results with and without telerehabilitation, very high satisfaction rates were reported by a slightly smaller proportion of patients (-4.0% to-5.0%) using telerehabilitation compared to episodes not using telerehabilitation.
PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Physical therapy delivered through telerehabilitation was equally effective and more efficient for patients with low back pain compared to traditional in-person office visit care, with a trend of higher effectiveness when telerehabilitation was used for all visits during the episode of care. In addition, patients were very satisfied with their treatment results when their care included treatments administered by telerehabilitation.
Our results are important for employers, payers, and providers to consider as a potentially less-expensive and a viable option for rehabilitation care for managing low back pain not only during the current pandemic but also in the post COVID-19 era. Our results are also important for educating our patients, especially those with socioeconomic and physical disability issues, that telerehabilitation is as equally effective as the traditional in-person office visit. Allowing the patient, the treatment choice to select telerehabilitation may have the advantage of increasing patient buy-in and compliance with their care, thereby optimizing treatment outcomes.
PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: As clinicians we need to remember that telerehabilitation care may not be for everyone and discerning who may benefit from telerehabilitation from those who will not will be important. One aim for future research is to identify ‘a priori’ subgroups of patients who will benefit from telerehabilitation.
PainRelief.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We analyzed data only from clinicians using FOTO to collect treatment outcomes, with no comparison to clinicians who either did not document treatment outcomes or did not use FOTO for outcome documentation. Therefore, our results may not be generalizable in other contexts. In addition, randomized control trials are required to validate our results.
Werneke MW, Deutscher D, Hayes D, Grigsby D, Mioduski JE, Resnik LJ, Fapta. Is Telerehabilitation a Viable Option for Patients with Low Back Pain? Associations between Telerehabilitation and Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Phys Ther. 2022 Feb 23:pzac020. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzac020. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35202466.
Physical Therapy, pzac020, https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzac020
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