Can Physiotherapists Use Telehealth?

Have you ever experienced a time where you needed healthcare services but weren’t able to access them? While many of us have access to healthcare services, for others it can be extremely difficult to receive the same care. Whether the pandemic has decreased the availability of healthcare services around you, or you’re simply further away from these services, telehealth can be a great option to ensure you receive quality healthcare. That being said, there is always some confusion around what telehealth is and who offers telehealth services. So today, we’ll unpack what telehealth is, how it works, and how it can be done with physiotherapy.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service where you can receive health advice and information. On the Ontario government website, there is a toll-free number you may call to speak with a registered nurse. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They even have assistance available in over 300 different languages! You just have to let them know what language you prefer once you’ve dialed the number.

Once you are connected with a registered nurse, they will ask you lots of questions so they can direct you to the appropriate healthcare services. The nurse will not diagnose you or give you any form of treatment, but instead will ensure you receive the proper care from the right healthcare provider. They may connect you with a physiotherapist, dietician, or other healthcare practitioner, advise you to go to a walk-in clinic, or in some cases recommend you go to the hospital.

You can ask questions about many different health related concerns, including illness and injury, support for quitting smoking, healthy eating, breastfeeding, and more! Although calling Telehealth Ontario will not directly connect you with a physiotherapist, they can connect you to a clinic that offers virtual physiotherapy services (also known as telehealth physiotherapy).

What is telehealth physiotherapy?

While telehealth is typically used as a term for healthcare services over the phone, it can also be used as a term for virtual healthcare appointments. Telehealth physiotherapy is essentially the same thing as virtual physiotherapy. The term virtual physiotherapy is often used instead because most physiotherapists will prefer to do a video call instead of just talking over the phone.

This allows them to see both your injury and movement capability. Telehealth physiotherapy appointments are very similar to in-person physiotherapy appointments, just without the hands-on component. The appointment will start with a subjective assessment, where your physiotherapist will ask you lots of questions to understand your injury. Afterwards, your physiotherapist will start the objective assessment. Here, they will take a look at your injury and ask you to perform a series of different movements. This will allow your therapist to confirm a diagnosis, and gain a good understanding of any physical limitations you may have as a result of your current injury.

Once the full assessment is complete, your physiotherapist will discuss their clinical findings, diagnosis, and treatment plan with you. Since the assessment and treatment will be done virtually, the majority of the treatment plan will consist of education and exercise. Research indicates education and home exercises are essential for managing orthopaedic injuries, so you will still be on the right track even without in-person appointments! For more information on virtual physiotherapy, please read our blog here.

In conclusion, physiotherapists can use telehealth, but it won’t be directly through Telehealth Ontario. Instead, telehealth physiotherapy may be used interchangeably with virtual physiotherapy. These services are offered by most community clinics and will include video calls instead of a phone call where possible.

Telehealth Ontario is a service you may call to be connected with virtual physiotherapy services or for any other health-related questions or concerns. Telehealth Ontario will not provide diagnosis or treatment, but instead will direct/connect you to the most appropriate place to receive assistance with your healthcare needs.

Still not sure what to expect with telehealth physiotherapy? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury. 


Liam Newlands

Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance

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