Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate rehabilitation through teletreatment as an alternative to a physical homecare visit to deliver services to individuals at home following discharge from an acute hospital or rehabilitation unit.
Method: Four community-living elderly people were recruited for telerehabilitation services prior being discharged from an acute-care hospital and a geriatric rehabilitation unit. Once the patient returned home, an appointment was made for the assessing therapist to take the clinical measurements (T1) in a face-to-face session. Four clinical variables were used (functional autonomy, balance, locomotor performance in walking and lower-body strength). Telerehabilitation sessions with the participants were conducted with trained personnel in the individual's home. The system used to support telerehabilitation services for this proof of concept was built around network-attached remotely-controlled pan/tilt/zoom cameras with MJPEG compression, media displays and hands-free phones. Before the patient was discharged from the physiotherapy program, the same assessing therapist visited the subject again to take the T2 measurements in a face-to-face session. The satisfaction of the health-care professional was determined for each session with the homemade questionnaire. Costs related to telerehabilitation were compared to theoretically home visits.
Results: All four subjects improved on the four clinical variables. Mean costs for the telerehabilitation program, comprising 12 sessions over 4 weeks was $487.
Conclusion: Telerehabilitation seems to be a practical alternative for dispensing rehabilitation services after patients are discharged from an acute hospital or rehabilitation unit.