Patients with illnesses or injuries may receive physical therapy to increase their range of motion, refine their gross motor skills, and reduce their pain. Physical therapy includes exercises, massages, and heat therapy.
Physical therapists evaluate their patients and develop treatment plans for their patients. These medical professionals also assess technological and design developments that could benefit their patients. The design and technology innovations discussed here have transformed physical therapy practices and enabled physical therapists to implement new treatments and improve patient outcomes.
Powered exoskeletons have revolutionized the physical therapy industry. The exoskeleton fits over a patient’s body. Sensors, algorithms, and actuators work together to prompt the patient’s body to move appropriately while providing optimal physical support. Exoskeleton technology reduces pressure on the patient’s joints and muscles. Some exoskeletons are designed for lower limbs. Lower limb exoskeletons support the hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and back. Physical therapists use these exoskeletons with patients who need to improve their gait and increase their mobility. Upper limb exoskeletons support the shoulders and arms. Patients using upper limb exoskeletons can increase their range of motion and improve their upper body muscle strength.
The potential benefits of robot exoskeletons are extensive. This technology can enable people who use a wheelchair to stand and walk. Stroke patients can rebuild their endurance and use the exoskeleton to reduce their fatigue and regain mobility. Patients affected by severe medical issues, including a spinal cord injury, a brain tumor, a traumatic brain injury, or paralysis, benefit from using robot exoskeletons.
Virtual reality (VR) enables users to engage with people, characters, or things that aren’t physically present. A person wears a VR headset that creates a three-dimensional environment the person can interact with. VR is popular with gamers, who use VR to engage in lightsaber battles, sword fights, and other game activities.
VR prevents treatment programs from becoming monotonous. With a VR headset, patients can diversify their exercise routine and engage with environments they find interesting. This can motivate patients to extend their exercises and increase their activity level.
Physical therapists also benefit from VR therapy because they can increase the variety of exercises and activities they offer patients without expanding their facilities.
Designers recognize the health benefits of some footwear design features. For example, wide calf boots for women have a heel that supports your calf. Patients should wear appropriate, supportive footwear to prevent injuries. Ideal footwear provides stability. Without appropriate footwear, a patient may be more likely to lose their balance, roll their heels, and develop bladder control issues. Whether you’re looking for knee boots or a new pair of black boots, it’s possible to find fashionable boots that offer the best fit possible.
Patients with wide calves should invest in wide calf boots to ensure their footwear fits properly. Tight boots can cause ingrown toenails, bone spurs, and crossed toes. Individuals who wear tight boots or footwear that provides insufficient support are more likely to need foot surgery.
Teletherapy enables physical therapists to provide ongoing support to patients who can’t attend sessions in person. During the coronavirus pandemic, physical therapists introduced teletherapy for high-risk patients. With a live video feed, physical therapists can monitor patients performing exercises at home and demonstrate how to perform new exercises. Utilizing teletherapy prevented thousands of patients from having their physical therapy sessions disrupted.
Physical activity is a crucial facet of physical therapy. Patients can use locomats to increase their mobility. Locomats are treadmills designed to support the patient’s body weight. Patients using locomats can prioritize improving their gait and increasing their endurance without worrying about fatigue from supporting their body weight while they exercise. Patients with a range of injuries and illnesses that affect their gross motor functions, such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, benefit from using locomats.
Physical therapy benefits from innovative footwear designs that offer optimal support to patients and ensure patients can obtain footwear that fits properly. Technological developments have also transformed physical therapy by providing physical support for patients and diversifying their exercise routines.