COVID-19 pandemic making things more difficult for physical therapy patients

Physical therapy during pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Gyms are closed across Arizona and many people are staying at home, which is having a big impact on physical therapy patients.

“It’s been a major change for us having to stay home all the time,” said Michelle Jaffee.

Jaffee, a physical therapy patient, has a toddler and said they haven’t been as active during the pandemic.

“We used to get out and go to parks,” she said. “We used to go to a gym where my son and I would run, play and climb. That definitely kept me very active and I do feel like things have changed.”

Jaffee said she did telehealth physical therapy for a while and is thankful that was an option.

“If I would have had to have missed appointments altogether, then I know I would’ve backtracked in my progress” she said. “I would’ve had more pain and most likely lost some strength along the way.”

Physical therapist Melissa Buss said while they are still seeing patients in-person with new safety protocols, telehealth has been a great option for many. She said education is key with virtual physical therapy.

“If there were hands-on techniques that I would normally have done, I would either recruit a partner that lived with my patient or teach the patients how to do them to themselves,” Buss said.

Buss said one of her biggest challenges is finding new ways to get people to do certain exercises with gyms closed.

She’s also having to get creative for people who are staying at home.

“One of the things I have people do is set an alarm for every hour and stand up and take a lap around the house,” she said.

Jaffee is back to doing physical therapy in-person, but recommends virtual treatment for anyone who isn’t ready to return.

“I think for people who are not going because of COVID, definitely consider telehealth because there are a lot of things that can benefit you,” she said.

Under Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order, which can be read HERE, gyms, fitness clubs and centers will be closed until at least July 27.

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