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Physical Therapy Technology to Improve Your Practice in 2022

Physical Therapists use technology in their practice every day. Learn about physical therapy technology innovations you will want to use in 2022.

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Physical Therapy and Technology

Physical therapy and technology go hand-in-hand. From the rise of computers that better track patient medical records to handheld devices that stimulate healing at the cellular level, physical therapy technology has continued to evolve to better serve the people that matter most — the patients. And now, physical therapist technology can better serve your therapy practice, too.It’s time to make room for new gadgets, cutting-edge software, and personal apps that can bridge the gap between patient and provider better than ever before. As the tool bag of a physical therapist continues to expand, assess and refresh the tools you use to improve the way patients are treated. Take a look at the available physical therapy technology to help grow your practice in 2022.

What is physical therapy technology?

Physical therapy technology is a long-recorded part of medical history that dates back to as early as 3000 BCE with ancient Chinese “Cong Fu” therapeutic movement. Even the ancient Greeks, who have been regarded as the grandfathers of modern medicine for centuries, prescribed manual therapy and exercise for disease and pain treatment as early as 500 BCE.In other words, physical therapy technology is nothing new — rather, it’sthe type of technologythat’s evolved over the years. Where ancient physicians used rudimentary tools and best-guess hypotheses, today’s physical therapists have digital devices that inform a best-case treatment plan. These new techniques in physical therapy have helped to enrich the modern patient experience.Here’s just a glimpse of the array of physical therapy technology available for PT professionals today.

1. Wearable technology

As the name might suggest, wearable technology is a type of smart device that’s worn on the surface of the skin to glean insights, like a FitBit. Physical therapy wearable technology uses the same concept, but on a more robust scale.For instance,Cipher Skinis wearable physical therapy technology that wraps around the arm or leg to measure patient movements, including range of motion, muscle expansion, and even heart rate. During rehabilitation,Ekso Bionicsoffers a wearable exoskeleton designed to assist all aspects of mobility impairment.

2. Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN)

Some of the most widely renowned physical therapy innovations of 2022 are the host of tools derived from aComputer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment(CAREN). This military-developed technology includes a single lab to assess all elements of balance and locomotion by collecting performance data in challenging environments.A CAREN lab utilizes a theater-like sensory environment, movable platform, treadmill, and motion-capture technology to enter patients into an immersive experience that records motor control, gait, and more. Not only is CAREN a beneficial learning tool, but this physical therapy technology allows for highly-accurate prosthetics and rehabilitative devices.

3. VR (Virtual Reality)

If the immersive experiences of CAREN are tempting but a bit too large for your clinic, virtual reality (VR) technology might be the better fit for your practice. Virtual rehabilitation solutions likeJintronixstimulate movement environments, like walking and running, so therapists can better assess a patient’s functional ability and patients can enjoy treatment in a game-like environment.

4. Telehealth

TeleHealth isn’t just physical therapy new technology, it’s a new technology for everyone in the medical field. Between the COVID-19 public health emergency and updates to Medicare physical therapy caps, the share of Medicare visits conducted throughtelehealth in 2020increased 63-fold. In 2022, fully-HIPAA compliantphysical therapy telehealth softwareis a must.

5. NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation)

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation, also known as NMES, is a type of physical therapy technology that benefits patients who need to regain range or strength in a specific muscle group. NMES uses a device to transmit electrical impulses to nerves via electrodes placed on the skin, helping to retrain muscle groups to function properly after injury, surgery, or disuse.

6. Massage Guns

Massage guns may not be the newest physical therapy technology, but they’ve advanced quite a bit since they were introduced in the 1970s.Therabody, the producer of the popular Theragun Pro and Theragun Elite, has created a proprietary brushless motor that makes percussive devices quieter while making the average massages 60% deeper.

7. Smartphone Apps

Smartphone apps are tools that benefit both patients and practitioners. From learning new techniques in physical therapy with continuing education to demonstrating range of motion with the Goniometermeasuring app, these are tools you can keep right in your pocket.

How is new technology in physical therapy changing?

While physical therapy technology still consists of devices that diagnose and measure patient function and track improvement over an episode of care, it’s now become a medium to help people recover, and improvestandardization and positive outcomes. There are now virtual reality technologies that even “gamify” the rehabilitation process.Newtrends in physical therapy, like Wii-Hab physical rehabilitation that uses the Nintendo Wii, make physical therapy exercises feel like a game with a fun flair and competitive edge. The Wii’s motion-sensitive controllers allow patients to play games like boxing or bowling that are similar to repetitive motion exercises but feel more like a day at the park than a physical therapy appointment.

Do physical therapists use technology?

Physical therapists use technology throughout an entire episode of care to improve the way patients are treated. Technology allows for a more precise diagnosis and informed treatment plan with greater chances of success. Plus, gamification and telehealth appointments make physical therapy more accessible, engaging, and enjoyable for patients.Not to mention, physical therapy technology also allows PT professionals to grow their rehabilitation business. With a nationwide physical therapist shortage underway, acceptance and usage of new technology can entice new therapists to your practice. Likewise, today’s patients expect the modern luxuries that accompany new technology in physical therapy.

The Bottom Line

Physical therapy technology has developed over the centuries, from the humble beginnings of therapeutic movements to modern virtual devices that mimic human movement. Shouldn’t the EMR systems used in physical therapy evolve as well? Level up your physical therapy practice in 2022 with new technology, including advanced EMR solutions, when youbook a demotoday.

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