This article was originally published here
Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Jun 1;100(6):526-532. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001755.
This article describes the impact of the pandemic on physical medicine and rehabilitation in a COVID-19 referral center of a developing country. It describes how telerehabilitation can be leveraged to fill in the gaps in service, training, and research arms of the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty. The ITAWAG (“to call”) telerehabilitation program is the response of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Philippine General Hospital, which is the country’s national university hospital, to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that continues to limit face-to-face access to physical medicine and rehabilitation services throughout the country. With the significant decline in the number of patients served since the start of the pandemic, the ITAWAG program aimed to bridge the physical distance between patients and clinicians after a set of eligibility criteria for teleconsultation or teletherapy and a step-by-step process used before, during, and after each virtual encounter. However, because many physical medicine and rehabilitation consultants, residents, and therapists were not trained for the virtual approach to patient care, a telerehabilitation curriculum was developed to help in providing quality and competent services. Finally, despite the growing awareness of telerehabilitation throughout the country, several research gaps about this emerging technology are identified to determine its acceptance, applicability, and cost-effectiveness among others.