One of the easiest ways for physiotherapists and healthcare providers in this field to stand out from their local competition is to own the technology game. Even in 2021, too many clinics are still treating patients with outdated equipment and plans of care – the same old stretches and exercises, same needling and cupping techniques that take days to treat an issue. In such stagnancy, it’s natural to look at other, ‘eye-catching’ or ‘Instagram-able treatment options as a patient.

So let’s take a look at some of these technological innovations and trends that could take center stage in the coming years, as more and more patients get…impatient? And look for smarter, quicker ways to treat them.

1) Gamification:

Gamified Rehabilitation apps help engage patients, which is a key role in deciding the success or failure of the treatment. Even the best plans fall flat when the patient doesn’t perform the movements. These apps provide an engaging, rewarding experience with dopamine being released every time you play, and urging patients to keep coming back for more and keep their moods uplifted. Some of these apps let patients do their home exercise program while playing fun video games. The games involve movements prescribed by their physio, tracked with wearable sensors. The repetitions, trajectories and time taken is all tracked accurately, as well as the incorrectly done exercises so that the plan can later be tweaked.

2) Telerehabilitation:

We’ve spoken about this before, and it’s not going away anytime soon. With the prevailing pandemic restricting people to their homes, teleconsulting has become a huge trend and made life extremely convenient for patients and doctors alike.
Patients in rural areas can easily connect with specialists, parents can enjoy their physio sessions without having to drop their kids to daycare, and others who struggle to get out/have social anxiety can get treated from the comfort of their homes.
In fact, in countries like Poland and Germany tele-rehab is reimbursed as part of the health plans for citizens! 

3) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

These two phrases are more than just buzz words, they can actually change the face of the health care industry. Think less time spent writing notes and googling guidelines for treatment, think recognizing similar patterns in patient injuries, and streamlining procedures specific to each patient -automatically! Think storing ALL your patient data in one place and analyzing it to discover various insights that you can use to better your treatment as a physiotherapist.

4) Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) 

PEMF therapy is a promising solution to reduce the negative effects of chronic stress – something that’s very prevalent in today’s times. Physical therapists can use PEMF as to stimulate cells in order to enhance the overall well-being of their patients. With a large subset of the workforce is working from home, their increased exposure to damaging rays and frequencies (cellular, blue lights, Wi-Fi, etc.) added to the increased time spent on electronic gadgets, stress from additional duties and absence of rest has created a clear need for something like PEMF.

These are just a few, among the many innovations taking the physiotherapy world by storm. Rehabilitation robots, robotic assistance, Augmented reality, vision-based physiotherapy, and other electronically stimulative techniques all show promise. It remains to see which ones from these are here to stay, but the future does look promising!