When COVID-19 hit, Cassandra Culver enthusiastically began sewing fabric face masks for family, friends, businesses and healthcare providers. But soon, Culver was feeling increased shoulder pain as she worked at her sewing machine.
“I was worried this would affect my progress in other aspects of my physical therapy,” explained Culver, who undergoes outpatient physical therapy at Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s (YRMC’s) Physical Rehabilitation Services.
That’s when Culver’s Physical Therapist, Rich Tenney PT, DPT, PRC, suggested they schedule a telehealth visit. This would allow Tenney to evaluate Culver in her home – doing the activity causing her discomfort – and provide her with pain-relieving solutions.
Telehealth was recently introduced by YRMC Physical Rehabilitation Services as a permanent option for patients. The virtual visits are available to YRMC Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy clients. Telehealth visits allow healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology.
“A virtual visit with a patient in their environment has many benefits,” Tenney explained. “In Cassie’s situation, she could describe her struggle during our sessions at the Wellness Center, but our telehealth visit allowed me to observe her at work in her world and make adjustments.”
With her laptop positioned on an ottoman near her sewing station, Culver worked as Tenney evaluated her posture from his laptop at YRMC’s Wellness Center in Prescott.
“We discussed how to elevate my left foot with a combination of books,” recalled Culver. “Rich also recommended using a ball to position my hip in a way that wouldn’t cause additional pain or tension. We talked about my elbow placement, neck position and how holding my diaphragm would help ‘turn off’ a neck muscle to make the whole task easier.”
During that same telehealth session, Culver showed Tenney a staircase in her home that was challenging for her to navigate. When he needed to see her foot position in relation to the stair, Culver simply placed her laptop on the floor to give Tenney a close-up view.
Telehealth visits are more verbal than tactile, which means they incorporate lots of patient education. Because patients are in their own space, they feel comfortable.
“Our telehealth patients say they come away from their sessions feeling empowered,” Tenney said.
How did Cassandra Culver benefit from the telehealth visit?
“With Rich’s assistance, I doubled the time I can spend sewing before needing a break,” she said. “The telehealth visit was an incredible experience.”
To show her appreciation, Culver donated ear saver ties to the YRMC Physical Rehabilitation team. She sewed them as way to ensure the comfort of the staff who wear face masks during long shifts.
Telehealth visits are covered by Medicare and most commercial health plans. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information or contact YRMC Physical Rehabilitation Services in Prescott at (928) 771-5131 or Prescott Valley at (928) 759-5940.