Fortunately, most of us have been able to avoid contracting COVID-19 and have only had to deal with the inconveniences of isolation. Isolation brings with it a number of frustrations, such as not being able to get together with friends and family, not going out to movie theatres, restaurants, parties, etc. For those that have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained injury or who have suffered injuries through other accidents or incidents, isolation brings a whole host of other problems, particularly as it relates to getting the therapies that are needed in order to improve from the injuries the individual has suffered.
We have heard stories on the news about various therapists who are not able to conduct their business and may, in fact, be going out of business because of the financial impact to them. This has led to a lot of misunderstanding on the part of the general public who have sustained injury. They may believe that they cannot get any therapies during this period of isolation. That is simply not true.
As a starting point, in urgent situations physiotherapists, chiropractors and other treatment providers can provide hands-on treatment. I know of therapists who are providing such treatment to some of my clients. Obviously, not all individuals require urgent treatment and therefore would not be an exception to the no hands-on treatment requirement at this time.
Fortunately, there are a number of platforms, including Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, all of which can be downloaded for free, and be used to have virtual contact with your therapist in order to receive guidance and treatment.
As an example, a physiotherapist can instruct you in exercises to perform and can monitor those exercises as you perform them. Fancy equipment is not needed to perform most exercises during this time of isolation. Therapy bands, which are very inexpensive and can be purchased online or in a number of locations, are a great way to provide strengthening and stretching without the need to have a gym in your home.
Occupational therapists can also use these platforms to meet with you and assess your needs. They can even take a tour through your home to determine what, if any, devices are needed in the home or renovations made to the home in order to make it safe for you to use. Unfortunately, unless it is an urgent situation, massage therapists cannot really do much virtually.
Right now, it is not possible to see doctors one-on-one, whether it is your family doctor or a treating specialist. This does not preclude a doctor from seeing you virtually or even simply by phone or FaceTime, listening to your complaints and concerns and prescribing treatment. Although the doctor cannot put hands on, he or she can certainly have you go through a range of motions while they observe the movement virtually. Most doctors that I know are keeping the appointments that have been scheduled, but are doing them via telephone in order to keep up with the patient’s ongoing issues and concerns and attempting to address them.
For a lot of people that have been injured, one of the greatest needs during this time of isolation is for counselling from a social worker or a psychologist and, in some extreme cases even a psychiatrist. Do not be ashamed to admit that you are having difficulties mentally coping with your injuries and with the complications from COVID-19 and ask for help. Social workers and psychologists should easily be able to counsel you virtually over any of the platforms that I have indicated. If you do not happen to have a computer or an IPad, then you can do the counselling over your mobile phone by way of FaceTime. If you have none of these, then I would recommend that you speak to your lawyer, assuming you have one, who should be able to speak to an occupational therapist to put in a treatment plan for an IPad, laptop computer or a mobile phone in order that you can continue on with your therapy. If that, for some reason, is not possible, then communications can occur by the old fashion system of simply a phone call. Again, most of the social workers and psychologists that I know are continuing to see their clients virtually.
Psychiatrists, like other doctors, should be able to speak to you by phone or virtually to assess you and make recommendations, including the prescription of medications. In extreme cases, the doctor may make recommendations for you to attend the hospital. Despite any concerns about COVID-19, you should follow that advice.
If you need treatment and have not received it, then I suggest you contact your treatment provider and ask that they set it up virtually. If they say they cannot or will not, then I suggest that you find a therapist who will or can. If you have a lawyer already involved in your injury case, then I suggest you contact your lawyer who should be able to put you in touch with a therapist who will provide that treatment. Do not be afraid to ask for the things that you need.
It may not be ideal, but you can certainly continue to get treatment by most therapists and treatment providers virtually at this time. Let’s hope that we are all out of this soon and in the meantime, please stay safe.