Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is a virtual treatment modality that allows providers to care for patients without an in-person office visit. Telehealth offers convenient and virtual baseline testing, diagnosis and injury management. Additionally, telehealth services support athletes in unique ways, such as providing virtual physical therapy, sport psychology support and even rehabilitation with athletic trainers (ATs). Studies show that telehealth may expand the ability of healthcare professionals to provide timely and effective care to athletes. What’s more, virtual AT programs can help increase athlete rehab protocol adherence by way of accessible, convenient and continuous care.
The role of telehealth in sports injury management has done wonders for athlete well-being and continues to prove to be an innovative and successful treatment method. Specifically, the use of virtual ATs has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current research suggests combining in-person AT services with virtual visits to customize rehab programs, accommodate various home environments and athletes’ learning abilities, and effectively involve parents/guardians in athlete care. For example, one study found that implementing virtual AT services among youth athletes with concussions dramatically decreased concussion symptoms while athlete rehab adherence and enjoyment increased.
Sports organizations might consider the implementation of virtual athletic trainers to support their athletes best. If AT services are offered both in-person and virtually, time and transportation become less of a barrier to care. Additionally, these services can be offered to athletes at a greater frequency, increasing the likelihood of successful and timely recovery from injuries. So ask yourself, how might athletic trainers and telehealth benefit your athletes and their families?
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- Molony JT Jr. Telehealth Physical Therapy: More Than an Alternative to In-Person Care of the Young Athlete. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Dec 1;16(6):1586-1589. doi: 10.26603/001c.29511. PMID: 34909263; PMCID: PMC8637263
- Subramanyam V, Day MA, Kinderknecht JJ. The Role of Telehealth in Sideline Management of Sports-Related Injuries. HSS J. 2021 Feb;17(1):46-50. doi: 10.1177/1556331620979653. Epub 2021 Feb 21. PMID: 33967641; PMCID: PMC8077984
- Toresdahl BG, Young WK, Quijano B, Scott DA. A Systematic Review of Telehealth and Sport-Related Concussion: Baseline Testing, Diagnosis, and Management. HSS Journal®. 2021;17(1):18-24. doi:10.1177/1556331620975856