Physical therapists say the pandemic challenged the practice

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Physical therapy is a hands on practice that usually requires face to face appointments.

So when the pandemic hit, PTs struggled to find a new normal.

April Mettler as been a physical therapist for 12 years.

“We have always been known as a hands-on rehab. That is always what we’ve made our claim to fame on. Hands on care allows us to really get into the tissues, allows us to really manipulate things different than what normal exercise can,” said CC’s Physical Therapy Owner and Physical Therapist April Mettler.

“She does the dry needling and the hands-on therapy, really not just telling you how to do the exercise, but showing you how to do the exercise.” said April Mettler’s patient Alexandra Lund.

When the pandemic hit, things changed.

“As soon as March hit and everything was shutting down, we definitely had the rug drawn out from underneath us. We saw a drastic decline in business and number of clients coming into our office every day,” said Mettler.

Despite the obstacles and patient-hesitancy making face to face appointments difficult, Mettler decided to keep her focus primarily on in-person visits.

“The telehealth option is super nice for people. But if people can come in and see us and are comfortable with it, I feel like we as clinicians do such a better job with that face to face contact and that hands-on work,” said Mettler.

Kimberly Bloms is a pediatric physical therapist whose clients’ needs are a bit different.

“It was quite a whirlwind for us when we first opened and then had to navigate changes, especially because we work with kids who are immunocompromised,” said Kids in Motion Pediatric Therapy and Wellness Owner and Physical Therapist Kimberly Bloms.

Bloms says she was able to overcome some of the challenges presented by the pandemic obstacles by mover her practice from solely in person to partially online, through telehealth services.

“Telehealth itself went pretty smooth once we got the rhythm going. Parts of it were pretty entertaining trying to work with families on how to get kids to move the way we do,” said Bloms.

Despite the shift, Bloms also experienced a drop in clientele.

“Our numbers definitely declined at the very start of the pandemic,” said Bloms.

It’s been a rocky road for the industry the past 14 months, but both Mettler and Bloms say business is recovering and more and more people are recognizing the importance of physical therapy.

Mettler and Bloms both agree the best physical therapy session you can get is in-person with a therapist present.

However, both offer telehealth services for those who want it.

They say pandemic restrictions have shown them just how important exercise is for a health body.

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