Should We Teach Digital Physical Therapy? an Initial Look at Clinician and Faculty Perspectives
Within the physical therapy literature, thereÕs evidence of digital physical therapy producing positive patient outcomes and being cost effective, in certain populations. More recently, many clinicians are utilizing digital physical therapy during the COVID-19 crisis. A topic not discussed in the literature is that of teaching digital physical therapy to students. Do current clinicians and faculty members see a need for digital physical therapy? If so, should we include it in graduate curriculum? Finally, what topics associated with digital physical therapy should be included in an already robust curriculum? The purpose of our survey was to explore clinician and faculty perception of the need for digital physical therapy and its inclusion in doctor of physical therapy (DPT) curriculum.
To answer the research questions, a survey was designed and disseminated. The survey was designed by the studyÕs investigators after exploring similar research conducted in the discipline of speech and language pathology. This study was approved by the universityÕs Institutional Research Board. The survey was distributed electronically between January and March 2020. Respondents were asked to identify their primary role as either a physical therapy clinician or faculty member in a doctor of physical therapy program. The questions focused on the following topics: 1) is there is a need for digital physical therapy; 2) in what areas of physical therapy practice should it be implemented; 3) is there need for digital physical therapy content in DPT education; and 4) what should be included in the curriculum.
Data collected from the survey was analyzed using the Statistical Program for Social Sciences software. Of the 97 confirmed survey participants, 33% identified as clinicians and 67% identified as faculty. The large majority of responses recognized a clinical need for digital physical therapy and supported adding some content to graduate studies. The poster will detail the specialty practice areas respondents identified where digital physical therapy practice could be best utilized as well as the content we should consider adding to our curriculum.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
The poster will contribute to Improving the Patient Experience through Educational Strategies. Digital physical therapy, as a supplement to traditional care can allow a greater number of patients to access physical therapy. The survey was designed and distributed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; during the pandemic, we witnessed many clinicians using telemedicine and greater insurance recognition of these services. The data from our survey shows a need for digital physical therapy and its inclusion in DPT curriculum. Although we had a small sample size, this initial survey can begin to guide our curriculum to prepare students to meet the clinic and community needs. More research should to be done to develop best practices surrounding curriculum content and mode of delivery.