Healthcare
May 19, 2021

Q&A with a physiotherapist: How has the pandemic changed consultation and pain management for patients?

Hilde Hjertholm
CEO, Nurokor - Norway

A physiotherapist perspective on the pandemic and managing pain relief

NuroKor reflects on the past year and how operations have changed in the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physiotherapist and NuroKor Norway Distributor Hilde Hjertholm, shares a physiotherapist perspective on the pandemic and how it has changed consultation practices.

Hilde Hjertholm, Physiotherapist and NuroKor Norway Distributor

How has your ability to treat effectively been affected by the pandemic? What changes have been implemented to assist the transition to ‘at-home’?

Being a physiotherapist is a very hands-on job, so the whole industry immediately had to shift its mindset and provide more remote-access solutions. This posed quite a challenge to physiotherapists, but also inspired many to innovate their online practices and the tools for at-home recovery. The use of video consultation proved to be an effective method to assess conditions and suggesting suitable at-home exercises or equipment to aid the recovery process. 

Luckily there is new wearable health technology today, like NuroKor, that I have been able to utilise during the lockdown, which has allowed patients to treat themselves from home for a wide range of conditions, anything from tendinitis to sciatica pain. With guidance over the phone, most of the patients have been able to attain great results, and this has meant that they also have a system in place that they can use in the future.

How would you describe the health system’s response to the pandemic?

Although the health system was initially a little slow to respond, the DHSC and NHS worked together to quickly develop guidelines and recommendations, fast-tracking the health service’s use of digital health technology to enable better access to remote appointments and care for patients. 

What are the knock-on effects of this? 

The biggest knock-on effect is that physiotherapists haven’t been able to provide physical treatment interventions for some people. Communication between the physiotherapist and the patient has also become more drawn out, with discussion taking place via other means such as emails rather than in person. This means that at times it has been more challenging and taken longer to understand some patients’ needs and the impact of certain treatments. 

There have certainly been some benefits, and patients seem to have become more trusting of physios in their use of new methods and interventions, such as digital consultations and health technology like bioelectronics. Combining this remote support approach with face-to-face consultations could ultimately work better as it could mean that more patients are able to access physiotherapy consultations and support services due to great availability. 

Have you been able to offer support/ strategies to mitigate the challenges of COVID-19 for patients?

For me, I’ve seen the tremendous advancement of bioelectronic interventions over the last few years. Through the pandemic, as I’ve not been able to provide physical treatment for patients myself, treatment devices like NuroKor’s mibody have been a great alternative for many patients as it provides great results in recovery from injury from the comfort of home. 

Many other physiotherapists have also seen significant benefits of using NuroKor with their patients, and I also know of doctors who have prescribed the device too.

What will getting back to 'normal' look like?

I don’t think it’s a case of getting back to normal, but more so embracing what's effective for the situation. It’s difficult to predict when preventative measures for COVID-19 will be eased in clinical settings. 

In terms of patient care, there has been a real increase in self-management and many patients have proactively asked about new devices or tools that they can use themselves beyond the foam roller and spiky balls that they are accustomed to. I frequently recommend the NuroKor mibody device, as it uses bioelectronic technology to help with pain management and recovery through  personalised settings according to the individual’s needs. I’ve found that it has been especially helpful, for patients who are injured and want to restore mobility, and also those suffering from chronic pain who are looking for new and alternative options for pain management. 

mibody demonstration in a pain clinic consultation

How, in your opinion, are patients coping through this period? How is mental health in chronic pain sufferers being impacted?

In general patients were uneasy during the height of the pandemic, but have now begun to embrace the adapted approaches to care and therapy. There are however patients who still feel particularly anxious or have found their mental health to have been impacted - for those who would usually require regular appointments such as those with chronic pain or older adults have found the lack of face-to-face interaction more difficult. 

Based on this experience, what measures would you suggest to improve and future-proof patient care?

Digital healthcare solutions have been a huge part of the successful adaptation of healthcare services during the pandemic and I think we should continue to implement effective new innovations into clinical practice. I can also see that there will be a greater demand for remote devices that enable patients to manage their own treatment at home so it will be important for clinicians to understand the options that are available and will provide valuable support for patients and their care. 

About NuroKor:

Founded in 2018, NuroKor is a company committed to the development of bioelectronic technologies. NuroKor develops and formulates programmable bioelectronic software for clinical and therapeutic applications, in a range of easy to use, wearable devices. It provides the highest-quality products, delivering personalised pain relief and recovery support and rehabilitation to patients.