Virtual Physical Therapy Can Reduce Postsurgical Costs: Study

Investigation looks at patients following total knee replacements

There’s no denying the benefits of physical therapy following major surgery, but now experts are suggesting that meeting with a PT virtually may be equally as effective as a face-to-face appointment.

Fierce Healthcare Researchers at Duke Clinical Research Institute piloted a digital physical therapist tool with 143 patients who underwent total knee replacement at four different providers. A control group of 144 patients were prescribed traditional physical therapy.

VERA (or Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant) was developed by Reflexion Health and helps to guide patients through exercises prescribed by a physical therapist. The device also monitors patients’ performance in those exercises, allowing clinicians to tailor the recovery plan to their needs.

The technology is the equivalent of “standing in front of a mirror” and following your reflection, according to Janet Bettger, Ph.D., associate professor with the Duke Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the study’s lead author.

Also intriguing are the cost savings, which approached nearly $3,000 per patient with safety and quality metrics on par with a control group who underwent conventional PT. Patient response was positive, to the point that those patients who underwent bilateral knee replacement requested the use of VERA following their second surgery.

SOURCE: Fierce Healthcare

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