Technology is fundamentally changing the way we manage and administer healthcare all over the world. Healthcare providers and telehealth startups are finding ways to use technology to increase access to care as well as lower healthcare costs. As we head in the New Year, you should look for virtual physical therapy to revolutionize the healthcare industry.
A Look at Virtual Physical Therapy
In 2015, researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Dallas created a pilot rehabilitation program. Live Science reported it used real-time video, 3D computer-generated worlds, and force-feedback haptic devices to recreate a physical therapy session between patients and therapists. This was all done remotely using high-speed networks.
This isn’t able to be an effective PT telehealth option for mass adoption due to the fact that it requires internet speeds 40 to 100 times faster than standard networks.
VERA™, by Reflexion Health
But now another organization is taking a shot at virtual physical therapy with their virtual exercise rehabilitation assistant, or VERA. San Diego-based digital healthcare company, Reflexion Health, has created VERA to remotely bring physical therapy into the home.
Since receiving FDA clearance in November 2015, the company has been promoting their new rehab assistant. VERA is an all-in-one device that helps patients perform prescribed in-home exercises. Data regarding their compliance and technique will be compiled and sent back to their physical therapist.
The goal is not only to increase patient access but also to improve patient adherence to rehabilitation. This helps providers save time and money.
VERA Software and System
The VERA system uses a touch screen and a Microsoft Kinect camera. This camera can capture 3D motion of the patient’s entire body. The software can give real-time feedback to help patients improve their technique or review their performance.
Reports are generated and sent to physical therapists. They are able to continuously monitor their patient to make sure they are actually doing the exercises. Therapists can also make changes to the routine and send patients self-outcome assessments.
Patients or therapists can also set up telemedicine meetings using the VERA camera software if necessary. The system can also connect to a patient’s phone service if they do not have an in-home Wi-Fi network available.
The Future of VERA
Reflexion Health will likely find continued success with their VERA platform, as they took a medical first approach in creation. This is one important focus telehealth companies need to have to overcome some of the challenges to telehealth adoption.
VERA was not created with the intention of replacing physical therapists. It was created to help bridge that gap between patient and therapist, and help provide greater patient access to care.
Now Reflexion Health has decided to team with Duke Clinical Research Institute to conduct a study on the financial and clinical effects of VERA. This randomized, controlled trial will help provide evidence of the company’s virtual physical therapy success.
The Future of Virtual Physical Therapy
Virtual physical therapy is growing in popularity due to the encouraging positive results. There are obvious benefits for the providers trying to provide effective care. But there are also recovery benefits to the patients recovering from a stroke, surgery, or injury. Let’s hope the healthcare system is able to embrace telehealth and virtual physical therapy for the good of our patients.