Seemingly every industry is being shaken up by a wide variety of emerging technologies, and physical therapy is no different. The field is seeing a number of important developments that change how practitioners approach both diagnosing and treating patients.
From patient-facing developments like direct access to physical therapy, to advancements in video games and robotics, there are many exciting opportunities coming to the world of physical therapy. The following are some of the most important emerging trends in the industry.
Human therapists are an important resource in physical therapy treatment, but rehabilitation robots offer a number of advantages that aren’t available with a more traditional approach. Robots have been successfully used to help treat strokes in addition to numerous other neurological impairments.
With a rehabilitation robot, physical therapy patients can complete substantially more reps in the same period of time. These are used in conjunction with supervision by an actual physical therapist to allow for the most personalized treatment possible each session.
Virtual reality was once associated with gaming, but both VR and AR have experienced rapid growth over the last few years as they have been implemented in a wide range of business settings.
VR technology places patients in an interactive and fully immersive virtual environment and helps them improve mobility, balance, and more in ways that aren’t available with traditional treatment methods. This approach has been used most often with elderly patients and those with traumatic injuries, and the full potential of VR for physical therapy is just beginning to be discovered.
Fitbit, smartwatches, and other well-known products have made wearable tech significantly more popular, and many companies are researching new ways to leverage this technology.
One exciting wearable technology project is aided by software called FocusMotion. Patients at risk of falling can wear an item that tracks their speed and balance and lets physical therapists know when they begin to lose their balance. Even a few extra seconds can be enough to prevent an injury, so don’t be surprised if this is a common PT tool in just a few years.
Mobile apps give patients an easy way to view information about their treatment at any time, making home exercises substantially easier and facilitating communication between the patient and physical therapist.
PT Genie, one of the most popular physical therapy applications, is designed to encourage the completion of home exercises and help patients make a quick recovery. It even includes sensors that allow physical therapists to check for correct form and progress. They can schedule additional appointments or make a call if they notice any problems or setbacks.
Physical therapy will always be a personal field dependent on one-on-one treatment methods, but it will continue to change as new technologies offer innovative options for treatment, diagnosis, and more. These are just a few of the most important projects currently happening in the world of physical therapy.
Nixon Law Group’s attorneys represent healthcare technology companies using AI, telemedicine, data analytics, remote patient monitoring, mobile software apps, and medical device integrations to provide better care to patients and better insights to provider organizations. Contact us to learn more.