What is Telerehabilitation?

Telerehabilitation, as defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (2005) is “the clinical application of consultative, preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic services via two-way interactive telecommunication technology" (p.1).  This allows therapists to deliver rehabilitation services to clients who otherwise could not receive services, and it was developed due to the need to provide equal access to rehabilitation services for clients in remote geographic locations (Theodoros & Russel, 2008).  The use of telerehabilitation has increased using electronic and communication technologies with the use of videoconferencing, the increased speed of technology, and the decreased cost of computing products (Torsney, 2003).  There are many ways in which therapists are utilizing technology.  Some of these include therapeutic interventions, remote monitoring of progress, education and training to families and rehabilitation professionals, coordinating care with other professionals, and providing networking for people with disabilities (Durfee, 2007; Theodoros & Russel, 2008).  According The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telerehabilitation, it is also used for consultations, homecare, and direct patient care which can be delivered to various locations including the home, community, health facility, and work settings (Seelman & Hartman, 2009).  Telerehabilitation is a new and promising field for delivering rehabilitation services to underserved and geographically remote clients, but one that still requires much advancement in research and policy development.