20 Apr 2021
International journal of environmental research and public health;
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged rehabilitation professionals to provide therapy through telepractice. The aims of this study were to investigate and compare the uptake of tele-rehabilitation (TR) in Finland amongst different rehabilitation professions during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as potential differences between professions in carrying out TR. In addition, the goal was to explore in more depth therapists' views about the features that work and challenges of TR. A total of 850 therapists in the physio-, occupational-, speech and language-, and psychotherapy professions participated in the survey that included both quantitative and open-ended questions. The results show that 52% of all the therapists who participated in this study did take up TR with all or most of their clients during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all professionals who have carried out tele-rehabilitation during the pandemic, 46% planned to use TR regularly or probably also after the pandemic. There were also clear differences between the professions. Psychotherapists carried out TR during the pandemic and planned to use it also after the pandemic more often than the other professional groups. The qualitative analysis revealed that therapists identified several beneficial but also multiple challenging features of TR. Psychotherapists reported less challenges than other professions. The pandemic has clearly sped up the use of TR in rehabilitation.