Is online physiotherapy the way forward?

Online physiotherapy

Regular readers will know that I’ve had my fair share of injuries over the past few years. Running does place strain on your body and for me it led to a stress fracture in my hip and shin splints. Physiotherapy has been crucial for me both in getting diagnosed and rehabilitating my injuries. Working with my physio for the past 18 months has helped me heal, get back to running and hopefully prevent reoccurring issues.

One of my bugbears is when people try to use social media to diagnose injury. I constantly see tweets like “I had a sharp pain in my knee whilst running today, any advice?” or “My calf has been niggling for a few weeks, what could it be?” I appreciate that it’s distressing to be in pain and these people are looking for reassurance, but there really is no substitute for consulting with a professional. A qualified physiotherapist will consider the body as a whole and take into account any imbalances and lifestyle factors- slightly more in depth than a 140 character tweet!

Another mistake is using Google to diagnose your injury. I’ve fallen into this trap myself and it often leads to panic as you tend to come across the worst-case scenarios and horror stories. It’s easy to misdiagnose your complaint and convince yourself of the worst when reading articles on the web.

I think that the barrier to seeking an opinion from a professional physiotherapist is often time and cost. The consultation fee alone can be very expensive and it’s rare to be able to get an appointment within the same week. Runners can be an impatient bunch (myself included) and it’s difficult to be sidelined with undiagnosed pain whilst you wait for a consultation. It’s important to address an acute problem as quickly as possible, before it becomes long-term and chronic.

I came across JimJam which is a platform that provides access to highly qualified, UK-based physiotherapists via video call. You simply register, book a timeslot and provide a little information about yourself and your injury. When you attend your video call appointment, your physiotherapist will ask further questions in order to diagnose the issue. From this, they will prescribe you a personalised, evidence-based rehabilitation programme.

Your JimJam physio will provide ongoing support by asking how you’ve been finding your exercises, using this information to adjust your programme and providing further advice. You may need further investigations relating to your diagnosis, in which case the physio will refer you onto other healthcare professionals.

All you need to use JimJam is a computer with a webcam and microphone, and a reliable internet connection. Timeslots are available from early in the morning until late at night, whenever a physio is around to take an appointment. As JimJam have no overheads, consultations are just £19.99 making them much more affordable than seeing a physio in the traditional way.

My only concern was that physiotherapy needs to be hands-on in order to be effective. JimJam believe that the majority of complaints can be accurately diagnosed and treated remotely, with open communication and cooperation from the patient. Could online physiotherapy be the way forward?

Next time your knee is niggling or your calf is aching, log on to JimJam and give their physiotherapists a try. It must be better than a Twitter diagnosis!

Post written in collaboration with JimJam.

Would you use an online service to diagnose an injury? Have you ever been to see a physio?

13 Comments

  1. Steve Bonthrone
    January 20, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    I think it’s a great idea and one that could be very useful for both the physio and the patient. Using the video, the physio would be able to ask you to demonstrate where you feel the pain and what movements cause pain. It would be possible for them either to reach a diagnosis and find exercises for you that would make a lasting difference or be able to ask you to book a face to face session if further examination is required.

    I really dislike when people either ask for advice on social media or random people start giving unqualified diagnosis based on them having a problem in the same muscle/joint/bone so therefore the problem must be the same.

    • January 20, 2017 / 6:06 pm

      Yes totally agree. I know that people mean well, but giving an unqualified diagnosis could really do more harm than good.

  2. January 20, 2017 / 7:45 am

    I went to physiotherapy for 12 weeks after I crushed my foot in a boating accident (resulting in permanent injury and nerve damage). I don’t think I’d trust an online version, but I suppose it’s worth considering. Definitely better than Dr. Google or a Twitter diagnosis anyway, lol!

    • January 20, 2017 / 10:53 am

      Hi Elizabeth,

      All our physiotherapists are fully registered with the appropriate UK bodies, have at least three years of musculoskeletal clinical expertise (although in reality the average is over fifteen years), and we check multiple references for each professional. So a JimJam physio is like seeing your local physio, but instead of travelling to their bricks and mortar clinic, you have your consultation over video call!

      Alex

    • January 20, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      Ouch a crushed foot sounds awful, I can’t imagine how painful that was!

  3. January 19, 2017 / 6:58 am

    I have given up with physios because of the expense, but also the two I saw didn’t really help- I don’t think they diagnosed whatever it was correctly (I was told I had some kind of tear, but I don’t think it can be because sometimes it goes within a day, and if it was a tear it would need time to heal each time). Also getting an appointment is hard when you can’t swap work around for anything (well, apart from waiting for the holidays)- so the idea of online is appealing, although I’d need a lesson in doing a video conference first!

    • January 19, 2017 / 10:21 am

      Hi Maria,

      I’m sorry to hear your experience of Physio has not been entirely positive.

      Our techy guys have made the video chat/conferencing component quite straightforward.

      You register and pick an appointment time. We then send you a link that you click near the appointment time, this takes you to what is effectively a ‘virtual’ waiting room.

      Then when you and the Physio are both ready the consultation starts!

      Paul

    • January 20, 2017 / 6:07 pm

      That’s a shame that the physios you saw didn’t really help- mine has been amazing in helping me get diagnosed and treated.

  4. January 18, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    This sounds so interesting. I fully agree asking the Internet anything, injuries or illnesses, is always a bad sign. Especially forums…never go to the forums!! I like the sound of this as a first point of call, without having to spend a lot of money for an appointment with someone face-to-face (which is always tricky as well for people who have regular Mon-Fri jobs). Very interesting!

    • January 20, 2017 / 6:08 pm

      Definitely, it’s worth a try as a first port of call!

  5. Andreea
    January 18, 2017 / 7:42 am

    I would definitely prefer online rather than face to face for an opinion from a professional, rather than a tweet :). But, if I need more than just an opinion, a face to face visit might be needed. I went to a physio a few weeks ago for a knee pain that’s been bothering me for a while. I got a knee scan and some physical checks to tests the strength of some of my muscles. The scan is surely not possible remotely. But I’m glad there’s an online option for when you don’t need a scan!

    • January 18, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Hi Andreea, I’m Paul the Clinical Director of JimJam. Our consultations are every detailed and we have robust clinical governance processes, if we feel further investigation like a scan is required we can facilitate this but you are right in saying that this component would require a face to face visit. Sometimes a face to face visit with a physio or GP is also necessary and we facilitate this onward referral too.

    • January 18, 2017 / 3:58 pm

      That’s right- I needed to be referred for an MRI scan for my stress fracture, it’s not something that can be done remotely so JimJam will refer you on.

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