3 Questions Answered About Telehealth for Occupational Therapy
Who Benefits From Telehealth Occupational Therapy?
- People who may have experienced injuries such as a stroke, a brain injury, feeding disorders, upper extremity limb loss, and other neurological conditions have seen positive results from telehealth.
- Literature suggests that telehealth interventions are proven to be more effective than traditional in-person therapy sessions for mental health and substance abuse populations (Kinley et al., 2012).
- Lastly, telehealth services have shown efficacy for adults with autism living in assisted living facilities to be able to perform household activities more independently (Taber-Doughty, Shurr, Brewer, and Kubik, 2010).
Telehealth lends itself to be adaptable across a range of patient populations and people of all ages. Telehealth occupational therapy services are being tried and investigated in school systems, as many schools have trouble finding qualified occupational therapists in their communities to meet student’s needs.
How is Telehealth Occupational Therapy Delivered?
The use delivers telehealth occupational therapy services of videoconferencing platforms accompanied by digital occupational therapy tools and the integration of print materials. An occupational therapist can start a session by connecting with their patient virtually through the use of a videoconferencing platform. Many videoconferencing platforms have the availability to share the screen of one computer at a time. If the therapist is using a digital tool, they can join with the patient to complete the digital task by using this function or if they have a presentation to show they can share it directly with the patient. After a session is completed, the therapist can either send printable resources via email or assign homework on the digital tool.
Current Policies and Resources for Occupational Therapists
Telehealth occupational therapy must abide by local and federal guidelines that protect the client’s confidentiality. In addition, the occupational therapist may have to be licensed in the state of which the client is receiving telehealth occupational therapy services. Organizations such as the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (VA) or the Department of Defense (DoD) may have different guidelines for occupational therapists practicing telehealth. Here are several guides that provide vital information about telepractice occupational therapy:
The integration of telehealth allows occupational therapist to expand their services and reach more specialized clients. Occupational therapists can provide telehealth occupational therapy services in private practice, small office settings, large rehabilitation centers, independent living communities, senior living centers, hospitals, and school systems. With technology becoming available for therapeutic services, the demand for telehealth occupational services may increase as regulations and laws regarding telehealth occupational therapy change.
Source: Cason, J. (2014). Telehealth: A rapidly developing service delivery model for occupational therapy. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 6(1), 29. [Article]