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The cornerstone of telemedicine

Id Prof. Carl Froilan De Guzman“Telerehabilitation is a cornerstone in the health team for the recovery of sequelae that lead to an improvement in the quality of life of patients”, recently stated Prof. Carl Froilan De Guzman Leochico, advocate of telerehabilitation at University of the Phillippines, Manila.

As opposite to the typical delivery setting of rehabilitation interventions, telehealth may play an important role not just in the long-term phase of care but also in the acute and subacute phases, in which face-to-face rehabilitation is costly, risky, and impractical (1).
 

Telerehabilitation has the potential to be used as a hybrid approach to:

  • Improve in-person rehabilitation
  • Provide non-emergent care
  • Provide follow-up support to low-risk patients
  • Better manage discharge process

Telerehabilitation is useful in particular for people living in remote areas or areas where there is no such healthcare service.
According to a recent systematic literature review, these technology-based interventions and delivery methods feasible, safe, and more effective than conventional in-person approaches in improving motor and respiratory components associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s and COVID-19 (2).

In this particular historical period, in which there is an unprecedented request for care and assistance in hospitals – and even more at community service level – it appears a priority to verify the usability of innovative integrated solutions for the home rehabilitation of frail patients.
“We strongly believe that telerehabilitation programs improve health and provide a therapeutic alliance between patients and physiotherapists”, Bernal-Ultrera and colleagues recently stated in their publication on International Journal of Res Public Health (3).

Thanks to telerehabilitation program – the same authors reported – patients obtain benefits such as reduction of hospitalization rates and prevention of readmissions, early discharge from rehabilitation units, immediate access to outpatient rehabilitation services, cost reduction and time savings, as well as improved health outcomes and quality of life. In addition to clinical improvements in respiratory and physical measures, participants also benefit from their emotional well-being (3).

In addition telerehabilitation allows physiotherapists to take in charge and follow up a greater number of patients, and to collect information in databases which, through Artificial Intelligence algorithms, allow to create data reports that will be of clinical support (3).