We are living in an era where new technology is changing the very fabric of our daily lives. Technology has revolutionized how we how we access information, socialize and communicate with each other and – perhaps most profoundly – the way we get things done. The power of technology is particularly apparent when considering how technological advances have transformed the medical industry.
When it comes to medicine the biggest change in the relationship between patient and practitioner may be due to information technology – most notably the World Wide Web. The availability of information online allows patients to educate themselves regarding medical conditions, diseases, treatments, and prevention as never before. This information has provided the opportunity for patients to become much more involved in their care and also assists health care practitioners in being able to more fully inform their patients.
Email: The 21st House Call
Patients can also communicate with their physicians more readily online. The ability to email a doctor a question about how take or reactions to medications, as well as report how treatments are progressing can eliminate unnecessary office visits. Additionally, physicians are often able to provide more in-depth responses to a patient’s emailed query than they are able to provide during a busy day at the office or clinic.
Information technology has also transformed the way medical practitioners communicate and share information with each other. Medical records can now be instantaneously shared with outside specialists online. Cutting edge, life saving research is now disseminated throughout the world in real time.
Virtual Contributions to Physiotherapy
However, the application of technology to treatment methods and tools has transformed not only the way treatments are delivered, but increased the effectiveness of these modalities. An excellent example of the transformative nature of technology when applied to medical treatment is within the field of physiotherapy.
Improved technology within neonatal medicine has physiotherapists now increasingly treating premature infants who, without new technologies, would not have survived. Physiotherapy has also employed a surprising modality that most people wouldn’t associate with physical therapy – video games. New technology applied to video games can assist in increasing range of motion and fine motor skills. The technology applied to video games also provides the patient opportunities to “virtually” play games that provide them with more immediate feedback as to gains made than traditional modalities. This feedback enhances the patient’s progress as well as their mood because the games tend to take the focus away from the patient’s pain and transfer that focus to patient gains.
Even technological advances within the space program are being applied to physiotherapy. For instance robotic technology developed by NASA has been applied to the treatment of spinal cord and traumatic brain injury with a patented device called Secure Ambulation Mode – or SAM for short. The SAM walker is also used by physiotherapists to treat degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.