If you've gone through physical therapy in the past and are now planning to visit your local physical therapy center for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to realize that you'll notice some differences as soon as you enter. Physical therapy centers have put many changes into place to keep their patients safe while they receive the care that they need, whether it's after a car accident, following surgery, or simply to help with mobility during the aging process. Beyond receiving a screening upon entering and needing to wear your mask, here are some COVID-related differences that you'll encounter.
The frequent disinfecting of physical therapy equipment and surfaces around the clinic is now the norm at physical therapy centers. In the past, you might have worked with a pair of free weights soon after another patient finished using them. Now, you can expect that a staff member will thoroughly wipe down the entire surface of each weight with a cleaning solution so that you can handle them with confidence. Additionally, if your therapist is treating another patient while working with you, they will disinfect their hands after touching the other patient and before touching you.
At many physical therapy centers, there is a large room full of equipment that many patients use at the same time. If you're used to this environment, you'll likely notice a difference during the COVID age. Many centers work at limited capacity as a way of ensuring that patients can keep a safe distance from one another while they go through their exercises. For example, if the clinic's main room could accommodate 20 patients before the pandemic, staff may now only be booking 10 patients at a time into this space.
Virtual Appointments When Possible
Although physical therapy patients often need to visit their therapists to work on exercises in person, there may be specific scenarios in which it's possible to work together virtually. Depending on the nature of your health issue, your physical therapist may meet with you for an initial consultation and then recommend virtual meetings moving forward. These sessions will allow you to perform certain exercises and provide feedback while your therapist monitors you, and you'll feel safe doing so.
When you book your appointment with your physical therapist, don't hesitate to ask about the steps that the center is taking to keep its patients safe.