Walnut Creek, Calif., January 23, 2019 — When used alongside clinic-based physical therapy (PT), telerehab can accelerate workers’ return to work for modified duty by as much as10 weeks, according to a study presented at the American Physical Therapy Association/ Combined Sections Meeting (APTA/CSM) conference. The conference, which is being held in Washington D.C., attracts the largest gathering of physical therapists (PTs) nationwide, attracting more than 17,000 attendees annually.
The study tracked workers recovering from rotator cuff repairs and compared the outcomes of those who were prescribed traditional PT with those who combined PT with telerehab (PT sessions delivered via a mobile device). All participants were being treated under a workers’ compensation program.
“In general, patients covered under workers’ comp typically have poorer outcomes than those covered by private insurers,” said Sean Kinsman, DPT, head of clinical services at Trainer Rx, one of the fastest growing telerehab platforms in the U.S. “The most common cause of delays are medical authorization approvals. When treatment is delayed—especially after a surgical repair—patients often experience a permanent reductionin their physical ability with greater stiffness and pain, increasing their risk for re-operations.”
According to Dr. Kinsman, the study presented at the APTA/CSM poster session was designed to determine whether including telerehab into the program could improve patient outcomes. Lesley Anders
on, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco, Calif., ran the study and was supported with a grant from Trainer Rx.
What surprised Dr. Anderson and her team was the accelerated return to work.
- Patients who included telerehab into their program returned to modified duty
10 weeks earlierthan their counterparts
- Patients ready for full duty returned to work seven weeks sooner
The results for both are statistically significant. Those who included telerehab in their sessions regained their range of motion and strength faster. When it came to pain relief, patients who accessed their customized PT sessions online experienced a 46% decrease in pain.
Another surprising result from the study according to Kinsman, was the high degree of patient engagement.
“Despite delays in medical authorization, these patients continued to access their telerehab platform independently,” he said. “They appear more motivated to improve their personal health outcomes when given the autonomy of an online program.”
“Identifying non-medication options is key to decreasing costs for companies offering workers comp programs,” noted Mike Oberlander, MD, founder and medical director for Trainer Rx. “The cost of standard PT sessions often rises to as much as $4,000 per employee, while telerehab platforms such as Trainer Rx, can cost less than $150 for the full episode of care. As companies look for new avenues to help injured employees return to work sooner, more will include digital health tools into workers comp programs,” he said.
The APTA/CSM conference will run January 23-26.