According to statistics, approximately half of all adults in the United States will experience a skeletal or muscular-based injury that requires physical therapy. This has resulted in new techniques designed to improve the standard of care for patients.
In this comprehensive guide, you will be introduced to these techniques and practices – the current “trends” – of the industry. As we advance in 2022 and beyond, these trends are sure to become commonplace in the physical therapy industry.
In 2020, the pandemic associated with COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of telehealth technology in patient care. It was during this time that physical therapists were forced to adopt methods of treatment for patients that involved no contact and social distancing. This is when the use of telehealth services gained ground.
Medicare actually saw a 63% increase in telehealth appointments. Today, telehealth continues use in physical therapy. Improvements have been observed in the recovery of patients due to those individuals having a higher level of adherence to exercise programs performed at home. Virtual care provides maximum savings for both patients and practices. This promises to be a productive trend in the physical therapy industry.
2. Wearable Technology
In today’s world, more and more individuals are placing an emphasis on improving the way and amount that they move and managing pain. As a result, wearable technology is quickly emerging as a top trend.
Wearable technology not only includes products that may be purchased and worn by a patient, but also motion capture devices that may be utilized within a physical therapy practice.
These devices include sensors that are placed on patients. Therapists are then capable of tracking movements to calculate various figures, such as what the optimal range of motion is for that patient.
The results from wearable technology provide a means of creating customized care plans for patients to boost the outcome of their treatment.
Physical therapy practices that integrate wearable technology have a competitive edge that is highly beneficial for their patients.
3. Video Game Technology
Based on statistics, one out of every five appointments for physical therapy are missed each year. Many practices are now coming to terms that the appointments are typically a little less than exciting.
Now, they are integrating video game technology into appointments in order to increase the fun factor of the time spent in the office. In fact, some of the largest and most popular makers of video games throughout the world place an emphasis on creating games that are designed to enhance a player’s mobility and increase the amount of exercise that they get.
The combination of fun activities, high-speed performance, and highly-detailed graphics make video game integration immensely popular among physical therapy patients. While considered a trend in 2022, this promises to be a mainstay in the industry.
4. Virtual Reality
In 2019, a study was done that measured how virtual reality technology benefits those with balance issues associated with Parkinson’s disease. It was concluded that individuals experienced improved performance with virtual reality, compared to conventional forms of physical therapy.
Not only does virtual reality boost performance, but it is also entertaining for patients.
There are numerous companies – such as XRHealth – that are offering this type of tool on the basis of augmented reality. Headsets are sent directly to physical therapy patients with information on how to access software with exercises that will aid in independent recovery.
As with the other trends of 2022, the virtual reality trend promises to be a mainstay in the industry, too!
5. Robotics for Rehabilitation
Physical therapists have initiated the use of robotics for rehabilitation in recent years. It has been found that these devices are highly beneficial in helping with cognitive-based therapy, therapies for the treatment of motor skills, and rehabilitation procedures for after surgery.
Neural rehabilitation and gait training are highly beneficial aspects of rehabilitation robotic therapy.
These devices assist patients with their general level of functionality. As a patient improves, they are challenged by the devices and the difficulty level increases.
This particular trend will definitely continue to be a trend in the physical therapy industry.
6. Management Software for Practitioners
The next trend emerging in the physical therapy industry is the use of management software among practitioners. This type of software aids in automating tasks that once took hours upon hours to complete and now only takes seconds or minutes.
As a physical therapist, you may use this software for communications, to keep up on internal billing and payments, to maintain electronic medical records, and other types of daily activities.
The management software that is currently utilized across practices will aid in saving your practice both time and money.
7. Increased DEI Focus
One of the main trends in the physical therapy industry is the fact that more are starting to place DEI a main focus. That is, “diversity”, “equity”, and “inclusion”.
Today – more than ever before – practices are starting to highlight the overall importance of inclusion. This focus is on all aspects of today’s physical therapy practices. That means, interviewing, hiring, construction, training, services available to patients, and more!
As we progress, more and more PT practices will continue to highlight the importance of DEI.
8. Emphasis on Mental Health
Most do not relate the emphasis of mental health to physical therapy practices; however, this is quickly becoming a trend in the industry. In 2020, it is a known fact that more and more people became isolated, depressed, anxious, and dependent on substances to cope.
The effects of that devastating year continue to plague the population today.
The good news is, that physical activities, exercises, and movement play a productive role in boosting the mood, normalizing with patterns associated with rest, and even with cognitive-based issues. Many physical therapists are now offering whole-body care services that can help individuals to develop their mental health.
This will continue to be a trend of the industry as “feeling good” is a priority in everyone’s life.
9. Preventative Care
In the past, physical therapists assisted with the recovery of those that suffered from the effects of an illness or an injury.
Now, physical therapy is being viewed as a preventative course of action.
For example, by working with athletes, physical therapists can help them learn exercises and movements that may successfully prevent injuries.
By working with elderly populations, physical therapists may help make an individual stronger and have better balance; therefore, helping them to avoid potentially deadly falls.
As we move forward, preventative physical therapy promises to move forward within the industry, too.
10. Patient Safety
In recent years, physical therapy practices around the nation have made an increased effort to ensure patient safety. This really come to be in 2020. It was during that time, new hygiene practices took hold and new health measures were taken to protect patients.
Examples include wearing protective equipment, social distancing guidelines, cleaning surfaces, and providing virtual care programs and telehealth appointments.
As we continue forward, patient safety will continue to be a major trend among everyone who specializes in physical therapy and serves patients.
Connect to Others in the Industry
As you can see, there are many trends that are emerging and will continue to grow in popularity in the physical therapy industry. To learn more about how to grow your practice or to become more hands-on in the trends that have been mentioned in this guide, we here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network encourage you to connect with us.
In connecting with us, you will connect to others that are part of the industry. This is a network of professionals that can truly result in a difference in how you do business. Continue reading to learn more.
What is the Colorado Physical Therapy Network?
The Colorado Physical Therapy Network is an organization that was designed to assist in the support of physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists. The group structure is uniquely formatted to provide an environment that places an emphasis on increased mutual cooperation among all professionals, third-party payors, and patients – in order to provide the highest level of benefits to all. It also assists in the following:
- To reduce the treatment time of patients
- To reduce costs so that patients may complete treatments and return to their baseline quality of life
- To assist in helping patients discover therapy clinics with credentials throughout the entire State of Colorado
Colorado Physical Therapy Network is an Independent Practice Association (IPA) that consists of 155 different rehabilitation clinics throughout the State of Colorado. It helps to enhance the overall efficiency between payors, carriers, providers, and patients.
If you are a therapist, we encourage you to apply to our organization today. Not only will you find that your practice benefits on many levels, but you will also discover higher levels of productivity for your practice and better outcomes for your patients. You may apply now.