Kara Rowley, Battle Creek VA Medical Center physical therapist, conducts a Virtual Physical Therapy session with Air Force Veteran William Sharp from the Wyoming, MI, Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

Veterans can now get the care they need without leaving home. The Battle Creek VA Medical Center has provided physical therapy services to help Veterans improve their ability to move, manage pain and restore function.

Physical therapists can improve the quality of life for our Veterans online through Virtual Video Conferencing (VVC). They can assess Veterans’ needs, walk them through prescribed exercises and educate them on healthy living all while the Veteran remains in their home.

William Sharp joined the Air Force in 1965, flew helicopters during two tours in Vietnam, and was a flight instructor at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ. “I’ve been coming to VA since I got out in 1973. This is only my third virtual visit and I’m very comfortable with it. I’ve got no complaints so far,” Sharp said.

Therapy specialists quickly adapted

Veterans appreciate the convenience of VVC. Our team of 11 physical therapists and 6 physical therapist assistants quickly adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by using VVC.

They immediately expanded to virtual physical therapy appointments to assure safety while continuing to provide quality, essential Veteran Care. Kara Rowley, physical therapist at the Wyoming Community Based Outpatient Clinic (pictured above), is thankful for this new technology.

“I was setting up my very first virtual visit last spring when the pandemic restrictions shut down our outpatient visits. I was happy to be able to offer our Veterans something as an alternative to cancellations,” she said.

Virtual care a powerful tool

The physical therapy team currently offers 250 to 300 virtual outpatient appointments each month, accounting for over 30% of their current workload. We still offer face-to-face appointments to residents of the Community Living Center, Inpatient Mental Health, acute care units and for outpatients when deemed necessary for the best outcome.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely distributed and restrictions are lifted, virtual care will remain a powerful tool for delivering quality physical therapy to Veterans. Our team will continue to meet the Veteran’s needs, offering virtual care for Veteran follow up appointments, group classes and for those Veterans who are challenged by travel to either the Battle Creek or Wyoming campuses.

Adam Swager is a public affairs specialist who retired from the U.S. Army after 22 years of service.

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Published on Feb. 24, 2021

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