In room vs zoom physiotherapy. What is best for you?

As physiotherapists at Core, we continually follow all the latest research to help us assess and treat your aches, pains, headaches, numbness, heaviness, asymmetries, balance, weaknesses, tingling, stiffness and fears.

Evidence based practice (EBP) is integral to excellent physiotherapy assessment and management (along with clinical experience and sound understanding of the body’s anatomy, physiology and biomechanics). It is “the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care” (Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000).

Being physiotherapists and an essential service during COVID 19, we are delighted to reopen our doors for face to face physiotherapy and functional physiotherapy. We also respect that you may want to continue/ try our online services, or maybe even a mixture of both options.

A burning question we have right now is “Is ‘real time’ physiotherapy telerehabilitation effective?”

Thankfully, yes! But even better when mixed with face to face assessment and management as well.

In 2017 a systematic review (a thorough review of many other studies to get a much bigger snapshot and greater understanding of a topic) was conducted by a group of physiotherapists in Australia to better understand the question above by reviewing thousands of studies.

Cottrell, Galea, O’Leary, Hill and Russel sifted through 5913 studies to arrive at the 13 studies (1520 participants) that met their meticulous criteria with patients having knee osteoarthritis, chronic neck or lower back pain, arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions of which one seeks physiotherapy management.

They only included studies that:

  • were “real time” (live back and forth with the physiotherapist rather just leaving a voicemail/ email)
  • had a “comparison group” (eg. They would compare the face to face physio the the telerehabilitation groups, as well as a group combining both.)
  • the conditions were not secondary to another cause (such as following a stroke)
  • participants were older than 18 years old

They found that real time telerehabilitation was as effective as face to face rehabilitation. They looked at lots of measures including physical function, pain levels, quality of life scores and more.

Even better, they found that the best outcomes were found in those that had a mixture of face to face as well as online realtime follow up.

What does this mean for you and our Core community?

For our valued Core “regulars”, our physiotherapists understand the way you move, as well as vital information about your goals, important history, what has previously worked, and what hasn’t. This means, that if you want to get back on track, reset or restart any of your goals we are here for you physically and virtually to devise a plan that will work for you.

If you are new to Core, we look forward to meeting you for a chat, face to face session, on Core LIVE (via Zoom) or mixture of all to get cracking on whatever it is you want to achieve in 2020.

Written by Lauren Charlton


Cottrell et al. 2017, Real-time telerehabilitation for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is effective and comparable to standard practice: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Clinical Rehabilitation, vol 31 (5) pp 625- 638


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