A portrait of TIRR Memorial Hermann patient Wanda Diamond

As an individual living with Parkinson’s disease, Wanda Diamond has frequent medical appointments. When the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, she wanted to find other options for her routine healthcare needs that would minimize potential exposure to the virus. One solution Wanda found was to have her weekly physical therapy via telehealth.

In September 2020, Wanda underwent deep brain stimulation at Memorial Hermann – The Woodlands Medical Center as a treatment for her tremors, however she still had balance issues which could be improved with physical therapy.

“In December 2020, I was scheduled for several weeks of physical therapy,” said Wanda. “However, I didn’t want to attend as an outpatient. I wanted to minimize potential exposure to the virus. In addition, my husband wasn’t well and he drives me to my appointments, and I wanted to minimize his exposure as well. Having therapy at home was ideal.”

So, she began working with TIRR Memorial Hermann physical therapist Erin Stake via telehealth.

TIRR Memorial Hermann offers virtual appointments for outpatient therapy, neuropsychology, and physician and wellness programs to provide easy access to specialized services and teams. Virtual care is convenient and accessible for patients who may not be able to receive therapy services in the traditional fashion due to limitations imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Patients who may benefit from these virtual care services are those who are living in nursing facilities, have transportation issues or are immunocompromised.

Wanda met virtually with Erin once a week for six weeks. Each visit was about 45 minutes. After the session, Erin emailed Wanda exercises with diagrams and instructions to work on during the remainder of the week.

“Our telehealth sessions revolved around improving her balance, posture, confidence in her balance and her generalized strength,” said Erin. “We started each session answering questions about the previous weeks' exercises as well as with endurance tasks (standing, marching, walking around her island, sit to stands, etc). Wanda was very consistent with performing her home exercises and made excellent progress.”

“It was so easy,” said Wanda. “You don’t have to be a tech wiz! I’m 77 years old, and I had no problems. You only need minimal knowledge of computers. If you can use an iPhone, email or text you can do this – it was a cinch!”

While telehealth is a convenient way for patients like Wanda to receive their therapy, it is only a part of the all-inclusive rehabilitation programs offered by TIRR Memorial Hermann.

“I see telehealth as a wonderful adjunct to in-person therapy,” said Erin. “Most patients are able to succeed if they stay consistent with their exercises and develop awareness of how they are progressing. Wanda reflected each week on things she had difficulty with and things she did well.”

TIRR Memorial Hermann offers personalized therapy plans for each patient’s unique needs. “Other patients, may benefit from a split plan of care, meaning they attend sessions in clinic once per week and telehealth once per week,” adds Erin. “We want our community to stay safe during this unprecedented pandemic, and I'm thankful we have found a way to reach patients via telehealth!”

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Nationally Ranked Rehabilitation

For the 32nd consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 2 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.

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