The Vert Mooney Research Foundation and collaborators present findings of the Spine & Sport Physical Therapy telehealth initiative at the 2024 American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting

February 17, 2024

A team from The Vert Mooney Research Foundation (DBA U.S. Spine & Sport Foundation) ( and Spine & Sport Physical Therapy ( presented findings of their telehealth initiative at the 2024 American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting. The presentation’s abstract is shown below.


Katz R, Schwartz S, Walls M, Verna JL, Mayer JM. Physical Long term follow up from implementation of telehealth in physical therapy practice: an administrative case report. American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting. Boston, MA, February 2024.



Background and Purpose: Physical therapy utilization of telehealth services increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We previously reported our initial experiences as early adopters of telehealth in physical therapy practice for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) during this global emergency. The purpose of the administrative case report is to describe our long term-follow-up observations from implementation of telehealth in physical therapy practice.

Case Description: Telehealth services for MSDs were implemented in early 2020 across all clinics of an outpatient physical therapy organization in California. Initial patient outcomes were favorable and feedback from physical therapists about telehealth services was positive. Barriers and facilitators to implementation were identified. Since the 2020 implementation, telehealth services have continued at this organization. Observations at the 3-year follow-up timepoint are highlighted herein.

Outcomes: The usage of telehealth peaked at 7% of total volume (900 patient visits / month) during the pandemic in mid 2020. While volume has dropped significantly since then (currently 200 patient visits / month), telehealth continues to allow for earlier access to care by making the initial evaluation more accessible to those with geographical or scheduling challenges. It is primarily used to evaluate patients in rural, underserved, and understaffed areas, which helps avoid delays in recovery due to limited access. After the telehealth evaluation, most patients return to the clinic for follow-up visits. Although used less often, there are also patients that stay on telehealth due to scheduling conflicts. Telehealth visits are also delivered in two unique ways. Some patients still come to the clinic and the telehealth provider remotes in. This is a useful option when a clinic is understaffed. Other times, the patient is able to perform telehealth sessions from home. The ideal patients are those who have an orthopedic injury and are not at risk of falls. A major challenge regarding telehealth is convincing patients of the benefits of telehealth versus an in-person visit.

Discussion: In areas where there is an absence of access to physical therapy clinics, our experience with implementing and maintaining a telehealth program in an outpatient physical therapy practice suggests that telehealth can enhance quality of care, and remains a viable option for both evaluation and ongoing care. Telehealth is becoming more accepted as an alternative to in clinic follow-up as it is also becoming more prevalent for primary care providers to interact with patients. It has not become a substitute for care that involves manual interventions. Telehealth appears to be here to stay for the physical therapy management of MSDs. As more research is conducted on this topic, implementation barriers are reduced, and permanent solutions for regulations are legislated, we believe that telehealth will expand in this setting.

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