Looking for ideas for telehealth physical therapy and occupational therapy? We’re all in this together! Check out our favorite activity ideas!
It’s crazy how quickly things can change. One week, it’s business as usual:
-last minute notifications about the IEP meeting (tomorrow)
-that one kid who had to go to the bathroom 3 X during our 30 minute treatment session
-oodles of paperwork that will seemingly never get done
You know the drill.
A week later and BOOM. We are practicing social distancing from everyone but our own kids who are now at home 24/7 for an indefinite amount of time. I love my kids and I will treasure these nightly family dinners that are hit or miss during the school year with crazy schedules, but wow. This is a lot!
As therapists, we are trained to be hands-on practitioners. We can gently guide hips into alignment to correct posture and ease a small hand into holding a pencil with an age appropriate grasp.
A New Approach: Telehealth Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
With the current situation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, we are being asked to do something completely out of the norm for our practice. We are being asked to take our skills away from those hands-on settings and creatively deliver them online and via home programs.
I don’t know about you, but as a school-based PT, I am overwhelmed.
Originally, our therapy team was asked to send home packets of activities and suggestions to support each child’s IEP goals so that families could carry over skill development at home.
“No problem!” I thought. I have this amazing resource right at my fingertips…maybe you’ve heard of it? The Inspired Treehouse? :)
So, Claire and I went to work and created that sweet little Springtime Activity Pack full of fine, gross and sensory motor activities to help kids keep their skills up over the break from school. And you all loved it! It was downloaded over 1000x! Crisis averted.
Everyone began to panic. What if we are out of school longer than originally planned? What if we don’t go back at all until the fall? How will we ever make up all of this missed therapy time with all of these kids?
This is where telehealth enters the conversation, along with a whole lot of questions…what about HIPPA and FERPA? What about the kids who have significant needs and can’t attend to virtual therapy? What about the kids who can’t attend for more than a few seconds at a time, even during an hands-on session? How can I possibly do this with my own kids running around in the background behind me? Will telehealth services even count for “direct therapy minutes” in the end?
The stress level rises again!
Approaching Telehealth for School Therapy
I took a deep breath and thought long and hard. Here is what I decided. All I have to do is my best. And right now, my best is to serve as many of my kids as I can in whatever way works best for their families and the situation they are in.
For teletherapy options, our district has approved Google Classroom and Google Hangout with use of our school email address.
I sent out a Google Form through my school email address to all of the families on my caseload. It had 2 questions:
Getting Parent/Caregiver Feedback
- How would you like to receive physical therapy services moving forward?
- Weekly activities via email to support my child’s IEP goals.
- Weekly teletherapy sessions (online at a certain time per day).
- “Office hours” with the therapy team to discuss how I can support my child.
- I do not want any services during this time away from school
- If you choose teletherapy sessions, check any answer that applies:
- I have internet access and access to a computer
- I would prefer one on one sessions
- I would be open to working in a group with peers who have goals similar to my child’s.
My intentions with this form were to determine how best to continue services to meet the individual needs of my families.
Sending Activity Ideas for Home
I gathered a list of resources from The Inspired Treehouse and put them into email format to send parents ideas for activities to try at home but that would also work in a teletherapy session. By doing this, I think I have streamlined my process and will be able to best serve the kiddos on our caseload on whichever path they decide to take.
Here is a list of my favorite resources from our site that would be perfect to use for virtual therapy/home programs. You can find many more ideas in this post about activities for creating home programs.
And don’t miss our Spring-Themed Virtual Therapy Pack!
Resources for Virtual Sessions/Telehealth Therapy
I hope this helps you feel more comfortable and confident in what you have to offer the children on your caseload. We are amazing professionals and problem solvers! We are confident and flexible and crazy good at adapting to any circumstance that comes our way. I mean, many of us work in closets and hallways, right?
You can do this! And we want to hear from you about how you are creating sessions for virtual therapy/telehealth and how you’re putting together home programs. Leave us a comment below and keep in touch!