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Physical Therapy in the home

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by Toronto physiotherapist Mark Cheung

The advantages of being treated in your home

• Many health care professionals who offer home care treatment have extended hours, allowing for treatment sessions either before or after the patient goes to work. This means that patients don’t need to take time off work in order to receive proper treatment.

• The physiotherapist evaluates a patient in his or her natural environment.

• There’s no need for the patient to travel, thus making treatment more time efficient for the patient.

• The patient and family have complete privacy.

• Typically, on location sessions are directly with the physiotherapist, rather than an assistant. This is more efficient and gives the patient more time to ask questions and learn.

• Having your health care provider come to the home makes driving unnecessary, important after surgery.

Is at-home physiotherapy right for you?

In-home physical therapy provides the same quality of treatment that you would receive at a clinic. You don’t have to travel, and the travelling physiotherapist may work around your schedule; it will save you time and will be more convenient than going to a clinic.

However, it is not for everyone. Before you decide, you should ask yourself several questions:

Are you comfortable with having a stranger coming into your home?

Upon the first visit, the physiotherapist will essentially be a stranger coming into your home. The he or she will have experience with home therapy treatments and will try to make the experience as pleasant as possible, but as in a visit to a clinic, you will be required to give some personal information about yourself and your medical history.

Are there a lot of distractions in your home?

Many people have multiple things happening around the home which may lead to distractions during the treatment session. Treatments require your full attention, so you should minimize any possible distractions.

Is your home suitable for performing physical therapy?

Treatments can generally be performed in a small area. The therapist will make use of the available resources to administer all the tests and treatment required. Generally, the amount of space in your home is not an issue; however, you need at least a few square feet of open floor space. An electrical outlet will be needed if modalities such as ultrasound are required for treatment. Most of the equipment is light and portable, and will be brought to your home by the therapist.

The growing need for in-home physiotherapy services

Physical therapy is traditionally practiced in a number of different settings: schools, hospitals, private outpatient clinics and nursing homes, etc. A new trend now brings practitioners directly to the patient’s home to provide treatment.

There are two models which are currently employed for this service. The first is a mobile clinic in the form of an RV. These RV's are typically equipped with treatment tables, exercise equipment and all the typical modalities you would find in an outpatient clinic. The second, less expensive, model entails the physiotherapist traveling to the patient’s home with portable treatment equipment, such as a treatment table and hand held modality equipment.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association has stated that the need for home physical therapy services is increasing. In-home treatment has been shown to assist rehabilitation clients to gain or re-gain improved strength and mobility, resulting in improved function and a better quality of life. Clients who have had a myocardial infarct and are receiving home care physiotherapy following discharge also experience an improved quality of life. Those who have had a stroke benefit from improved mobility, functional capacity, and balance, which in turn reduces the risk of falling.

Although there is a heavy demand for at home and continuing care physiotherapy services, their availability is limited by the shortage of qualified professionals who provide them. Patients who received physiotherapy in a hospital setting may not have access to the same services when they are discharged. This can stop them from achieving optimal function and, in the case of chronic disease, may mean repeated admissions for hospital care. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association encourages its members to offer their services to patients who require treatment at home. (See Home and Continuing Care, CPA, Feb 2007.)

Physiohouse onsite physical therapy network
Our goal it to provide clinical quality physical therapy for patients within the GTA who are unable to travel or prefer not to. We are a network, not a clinic; our therapists work in different parts of the Greater Toronto Area. Services include: physiotherapy, massage, orthotics and orthopaedic shoes. Contact information: 416-655-2160 or Website:

Copyright © 2009 Mark Cheung



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