Telehealth Physical Therapy as an Innovative Clinical Education Model With Positive Patient Impact: A Case Report in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sara E North, Becky J Olson-Kellogg, Justin L Staker, Sarah M. Hong, Jackson L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Purpose. The potential benefits of telehealth physical therapy on patient access and outcomes have been explored in previous research. However, little is known regarding its role in physical therapist education and its impact on patient quality of life during a public health crisis. The purpose of this case report is to illustrate the twofold benefit of telehealth physical therapy as (1) a novel clinical education model that emphasizes adaptive learning and develops innovative physical therapists and, (2) a flexible care delivery model that has the potential to positively affect patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Case Description. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty in the University of Minnesota Division of Physical Therapy education program rapidly established an innovative pro bono telehealth physical therapy clinic (TeleMNPT) in response to limited access to outpatient clinics for both patient physical therapy service provision and student physical therapist clinical education needs. This case report details the use of TeleMNPT services by a patient presenting with vertigo and the role telehealth played in facilitating student clinical learning while also improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

Outcomes. The telehealth format offered challenges and benefits in student clinical education, including promotion of adaptive learning and role modeling, and produced positive functional outcomes and symptom reduction in the patient.

Discussion and Conclusion. New insights were formed regarding telehealth's potential contributions to the development of future physical therapists and the profession's approach to serving patients. This case report serves as a stepping stone for examining the potential role telehealth can play as both a mode of care and as an educational tool.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-281
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Education
Volume34
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

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