The new COVID-19 virus has heavily impacted the senior population around the world. Sadly, thousands of seniors have died in Canada and most of them were residents in care homes across the country. Consequently, many essential services such as physiotherapy were stopped to prevent further outbreaks in these places.
Seniors, more than anybody else, need help staying active so that they can maintain their health and independence. Loss of mobility in seniors leads to a number of problems. For instance, it puts them at greater risk of falling, which can lead to hip fracture. In Canada, it is estimated that 1 out of 3 seniors aged 65 years and older is at risk of falling. Falls are also one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations in the country.
Nevertheless, this global pandemic has caused physiotherapy to gradually adapt to a "new normal." To continue providing services to seniors without the risk of infecting them with the virus, many physiotherapists now use virtual therapy. With this option, the therapist does not need to be with the patient in person.
So, how effective is virtual therapy for seniors? It may still be too early to tell. However, therapists have been using this technology for years now. Having a means of connecting with the seniors and motivating them to keep active is better than nothing. After all, seniors need this connection not only for their physical well-being but also for their mental health especially while in isolation.
What we have seen in our own experience with virtual therapy is that seniors can adapt amazingly quick with the new technology. We have also received positive feedback from our clients saying that they missed our sessions and that they are glad we could resume working with them, even if it meant virtually.
Virtual therapy is now emerging as the new normal for physiotherapists, kinesiologists, and other health care professionals. We may see this becoming a permanent option particularly for seniors in care facilities where there are flu outbreaks every year. During those times, they will no longer be missing out on physiotherapy or kinesiology sessions because their therapists are just a click away.