Did you know that each year half of Americans who are 18 and older will develop a muscular or skeletal injury that will need physical therapy? This troubling statistic has actually made the physical therapy industry grow, introducing new techniques and practices.

If you yourself need physical therapy, it is important to know what new options and services will be available each year. Read on to learn about the top predictions of what the industry will focus on in 2021 and find out how it can affect you.

Telehealth Services

Since the pandemic, more and more people have relied on telehealth options for their physical therapy. (NOTE: Telehealth depends on technology that is wearable. It allows the therapists to get readings and other information from the patient.)

An additional benefit to wearable tech is that it gets people more engaged with their progress, making rehab a quicker process. Telehealth and wearable tech will give therapists a better look into the experience each person is having with their therapy. The therapist will be able to see if the patient is struggling and can adjust treatment accordingly.

It is much more than video conferencing.

Focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

In 2021, physical therapists’ focus on DEI is crucial.

In 2003, the Institute of Medicine had a study on implicit bias, which is the unconscious bias that everyone has based on stereotypes. This study said that implicit bias against a group based on age, race, and other factors will affect the quality of the care they receive.

To work against this bias and to focus on DEI, the physical therapy industry will stress the importance of inclusion. This includes all aspects, from hiring practices to training.

Prioritizing Mental Health Using Physical Therapy

Throughout 2020, there was a spike in mental health concerns. People were isolated and many began a dependency on alcohol and other substances.

One of the most important physical therapy benefits is what it can offer for mental health. Study after study shows that leading a more active lifestyle and engaging in physical activities can help with mental health. It can boost mood, normalize sleeping patterns, and can even assist with cognitive issues.

In 2021, you can expect greater emphasis on mental health and how attitude and mood can affect the body. This also includes whole-body care, with holistic approaches to some therapies.

Preventative Care

Often, physical therapy is used for dealing with an injury and not for preventing it. This is slowly changing.

Many therapists are now focusing on preventing injuries, like helping people with balance issues or the elderly on how to avoid falls. To prevent injuries for people who have debilitating diseases, physical therapists will use exercises created to strengthen the right parts of the body.

Since it is more expensive to pay for rehabilitation after an injury, preventative therapy is vital for the entire industry as well as for the patient.

Patient Safety in Physical Therapy

Although physical therapists have always been focused on patient safety, 2021 will see a huge spike in that. Since 2020, therapists have been wearing protective equipment and have required their patients to do the same.

This also meant cleaning surfaces and providing virtual services. All of it will ensure safety from the pandemic.

The increased use of virtual treatments brought on another concern: data security. This year, more healthcare providers and physical therapists are enhancing the protection of their clients’ personal data. Patient safety is one of the physical therapy predictions that will continue to grow as more people rely on virtual healthcare.

Increased Cooperation Among Physiotherapists

It is important for physical therapists to know when their patients can benefit from someone else’s expertise. There are therapists who have specific focuses and who can offer better care for those injuries.

Another thing to remember is that injuries that lead to physical therapy can have impacts on the entire body. One physical therapist may be able to deal with the muscular rehabilitation, while another therapist can offer dry needling or some other therapeutic treatment.

In 2022, there will be a boost in cooperation, allowing patients to get the best possible care.

Artificial Intelligence

Physical therapists do a lot of office work, adding data and dealing with organizational requirements. In 2022, AI will make this process easier.

More therapists will rely on wearable technology to get the data they need. They will also turn to artificial intelligence to help make many procedures automatic.

They will be able to write clinical notes more quickly and will have access to better physical therapy guides. This allows them to find the right treatments for their patients.

Maximizing Patient Engagement

When the patient has trouble engaging with treatment, that treatment is more likely to fail. The problem is that physical therapy can be repetitive, uncomfortable, or sometimes painful, and it can be boring.

This is where gamified rehabilitation options can help. This type of rehab uses games to encourage engagement. Playing games improves mood and motivation, making people want to continue playing. That means the therapy continues.

Most of the gamified options involve sensors that register movement instead of controllers. The movements that affect the game-play are the ones the therapists have recommended.

The sensors track the movements to ensure they are being done correctly. If they are not, the therapist will offer guidance.

Get the Help You Need

For those dealing with injuries or chronic pain, physical therapy can offer relief. Why not get started today?

Schedule a telehealth or clinic appointment today!