Has your physical therapy center had an increase in appointment cancellations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Cancellations are one of the most pressing issues currently facing physical therapy rehabilitation centers.
At the start of the pandemic, Alice Bell, a physical therapist and senior payment specialist at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), confirmed that many patients were canceling their appointments “due to risk of exposure and stay-at-home orders.”
These circumstances put physical therapists between a rock and a hard place…
Should they encourage patients to come in for physical therapy or not?
After all, the only thing physical therapists want more than to rehabilitate their clients is to keep them safe; however, putting a pause on a patient’s physical therapy might not be the safest path for them.
Why Physical Therapy Shouldn’t Pause for the Pandemic
Physical therapy is an essential service because many patients desperately need rehabilitation to recover and maintain their health.
For instance, Physical Therapist Mary Stilphen warns, “people who are in pain, who are recovering from surgery, or who have a functional deficit [still] need to move to live.”
Not only that, but physical therapy also helps COVID-19 patients. Patients may need help to gain back important movements that they lost during bedrest, including:
- Standing from a seated position
- Walking freely
- Performing daily activities
For these reasons, physical therapists don’t want to turn patients away. So, how can physical therapy centers continue to treat patients while keeping them and their staff safe?
Safety Solutions for Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Centers
Thankfully, there are several ways that physical therapy centers have adapted to the rapidly changing times. Here are some popular safety solutions physical therapy centers can use:
- Offer telehealth appointments
- Schedule in-person appointments strategically
- Expand the space you’re working in
Offer Telehealth Appointments
First, physical therapy centers can offer telehealth appointments. This is ideal for patients who don’t feel comfortable visiting in person. They can still get their treatment without leaving their home!
Despite its benefits, telehealth isn’t a perfect solution. There are a few drawbacks to physical therapy telehealth, including the following:
- Patients who need assistance to move won’t be able to be treated virtually.
- Physical therapists must find a quiet space with ample room and good lighting to demonstrate exercises and talk to patients.
- Many healthcare providers do not cover financial costs for physical therapy via telehealth, so patients might not be able to afford this option.
Schedule Appointments Strategically
Alternatively, physical therapy centers can keep in-person visits safe with strategic appointments. This can include the following:
- Scheduling only a few patients at once to allow for social distancing
- Leaving an hour between appointments to clean equipment
- Offering special hours for vulnerable patients like senior citizens
Though, there are still drawbacks. Physical therapy centers will still have to slow down their intake considerably. In fact, your center may have to turn away patients who need your care, because there are no appointments available for them.
Expand Your Center’s Space
Finally, physical therapy centers can consider expanding their space. Adding more room to your center means you can practice social distancing while turning fewer patients away.
Wondering how your center can add more space? A professional construction crew can be expensive; plus, construction time can take months to complete.
Thankfully, fabric structures from WeatherPort® Shelter Systems offer an ideal solution. Physical therapy centers can increase their space without costly and timely construction.
[Related: Fabric Buildings Create Innovative Indoor Recreational Facilities]
Fabric Structures for Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Centers During COVID-19
Fabric structures for physical rehabilitation centers can make a huge difference in safety and patient care during COVID-19. They can provide physical therapy centers with:
- Extra space for socially distant patient care
- A devoted space for vulnerable patients to be treated
- Storage space for PPE and cleaning supplies
- A quiet office for telehealth appointments
- And more!
With a fabric structure, you’ll be able to increase the capacity of your center safely. That way, your staff will be able to help more patients in need.
And physical therapy centers can lessen their financial losses too.
The Benefits of Fabric Structures for Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Centers
Here are just a few of the many ways fabric structures can benefit physical therapy rehabilitation centers during COVID-19.
Simple and Speedy Setup
Right now, time is of the essence. The goal for many physical therapy centers is to get patients safe treatment as quickly as possible. Conveniently, fabric structures offer a fast setup that can be assembled without a professional construction team. So your space will be ready in no time!
Fabric structures are a great option for physical therapy centers that want a space for vulnerable patients to receive treatment. In particular, these patients won’t have to walk through your entire center to reach the room they need.
Instead, vulnerable patients can walk right into the fabric structure, without unnecessary exposures. This is because each fabric structure can have its own customizable entrance. You can even include a ramp for wheelchair access.
Plug-and-Play Electrical System
If you plan to have powered exercise equipment in your new space, fabric structures make it easy. Just use our plug-and-play electrical system.
This also makes for a great office space for telehealth appointments. With easy outlet access, physical therapists will be able to plug in a computer and other electronics they need. They’ll have a quiet and powered space to work in.
Many Cost-Saving Benefits
WeaterPort structures have several cost-saving benefits, including:
- Customizable windows for energy-efficient lighting
- Insulation packages to save on heating and cooling costs
- A durable, long-lasting structure with minimal maintenance required
Fabric Structures for Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Centers After COVID
When COVID-19 is a distant memory, physical therapy centers can still benefit from fabric structures. Here are a couple of things to consider.
Easier Car Entry and Exit Practice
A crucial skill that many physical therapists help their patients practice is getting in and out of their car. This can be a deceivingly difficult task because not every car is built the same way. Ideally, the patient will be able to practice this movement in their own vehicle.
Doing this rehabilitation exercise outside in the center’s parking lot is a common practice. However, this only works out if the weather holds up. It becomes a major challenge if there is a windstorm, heavy snowfall or rain, or extreme temperatures.
Fortunately, fabric structures are weather-resistant… And you can fit a car inside of most of them (depending on the building model and size you choose).
That’s right! WeatherPort fabric structures like those from the HGB series have customizable entryways. So you can have an entryway large enough for a vehicle to drive through.
With WeatherPort, your center can conduct car entry and exit practices year-round – regardless of the weather.
Flexible Storage Space
Does your physical therapy center have large machines or equipment that you don’t use every day? Or does your center hope to buy new equipment, but you don’t have the room for it right now?
If so, fabric structures can offer a great storage solution for your center as it grows and evolves over time.
Plus, fabric structures are completely portable and storable. If your center decides it no longer needs the extra space, it can be quickly taken down and stored away.
Add a Fabric Structure to Your Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Center
Adding a fabric structure to your physical therapy rehabilitation center is simple with the help of our friendly building specialists. To learn more about WeatherPort fabric structures for physical therapy rehabilitation centers, or to custom-design a structure to meet your exact needs, contact us today!
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