The move to telemedicine has accelerated rapidly during the coronavirus crisis as we look for ways to keep serving patients, even in traditionally hands-on realms like rehabilitative services.
Delivering physical, occupational and speech therapy remotely can be challenging, especially when working with children. But, together with our patients and their parents, we're coming up with creative solutions.
Social distancing doesn't have to stymie patient progress. At Holy Name's Center for Physical Rehabilitation, we're providing our robust rehabilitation programs.
We understand that in the current climate, parents may be hesitant to schedule in-person appointments. Telemedicine provides convenience and peace of mind if you are not ready to bring your child back to the medical center. We're working to educate parents and help them be the best possible coaches and advocates for their kids.
Critical Milestones from Birth to 18 months
We provide pediatric rehabilitative services from birth through adolescence, but in this blog we would like to highlight the critical importance of those services for our youngest patients, from 0 to 18 months old.
A host of new motor skills are developed during this time period. The milestones are many, from babies holding their heads up while on their tummies by 3 months to hand-clapping at a year to walking independently in the 13 to 18 months range.
Communication skills are developing quickly as well, from babbling at 4 to 6 months to acquiring new words after a year. It is also important to keep an eye on perceptual milestones during these early months, when issues with hearing, vision or other sensory matters could become apparent.
Some babies born during the pandemic have not yet had therapy for evident issues. There is no need to delay or forgo needed services. With referrals from pediatricians, we've had initial success with telemedicine to help babies and toddlers meet important milestones. In fact, telemedicine can provide an advantage in allowing the practitioner to see the baby's home environment and tailor remedies to that environment.
Addressing Issues Early is Key
Our therapists guide parents through remote sessions that can make a big difference. For instance, babies with torticollis – a twisted neck often visible at birth – do great with early therapy that involves simple exercises, stretches and changes to routine, such as feeding on a different side.
Having infants sleep on their backs is a life-saver in that it reduces the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But this important protocol can stunt development of some gross motor skills and increase the incidence of flat heads. A therapist can address these issues with simple remedies, working with parents to make sure their techniques are proper in the comfort of their home.
Reluctance to address lagging skills at the outset can lead to later developmental delays. Social distancing will be with us for a while, but there's no need to wait to get your child the therapy he or she needs. Our skilled and highly trained therapists can help.
Jason Kavountzis, MPT, OCS, is director of Rehabilitation Services at Holy Name Medical Center, where Danielle C. Campos, PT, DPT is coordinator of the Pediatric Program. To schedule a telemedicine physical therapy appointment, call 201-833-3085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.