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PTA Blog Talk

Technology, Again

Published February 8, 2012 9:05 PM by Jason Marketti

A while back, I wrote about how new technology is assisting with patients in the rehab field. I even thought about going back to school to learn more about engineering technology. Then I seriously thought about how this technology is changing the field of therapy. If we use technology to increase a patient's independence where do we fit into the grand scheme of things?

Maybe therapists will fade and engineers will fill the gaps to set the patients up in the machines they designed. Will the skills some of us learned in school and through CEUs become obsolete because the newer technology will pinpoint where a deficit is? There will need to be someone to set up the equipment and place a patient in the machines but is setting a patient up absolutely therapeutic in nature? Will it take the skills of a therapist to tell a patient to push, pull, bend and straighten on a machine? Maybe, maybe not. Could an exercise physiologist tell a patient to do that? Or an ATC? Yes, they should be able to determine where the joint alignment needs to be for the machine to be most effective.

So when dealing with machines, new assistive technology and the like, how do we determine where the therapeutic skills come into play? We know when we do PNF, NDT, etc. we are dealing with a special skill set for palpation, facilitation and patient response to the activity. With machines it is different. We can look at a computer screen, then at the patient, but it seems we would become more detached from the patient the more we use technology to assist a patient to achieve independence. What do you think?

1 comments

You make a valid point.  Where is the line between therapeutic skill and technology.  As far as I'm concerned there is no substitute for hands on therapy.  

Recent research is supporting that belief.  A few years ago robotic gait trainers, think BWS with robots to move the legs, were hitting the market.  So far research has show those robotics to be no more effective, and sometimes less effective, than either BWS training and over ground training.  The most recent stuff I've read says over ground is still the best but there is lots of support for BWS in early gait training.  

The reason? BWS and over ground both force the patient to use and activate muscles.  And who helps activate those muscles?  Us.

Toni February 9, 2012 5:59 AM

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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