All information is based on national and international recommendations and guidelines, when available. This information is not intended to be applicable to every scenario, but it is to give you information to make decisions based on the best available evidence and your professional judgment. As more information arises, this information will be updated.
Determining if Patients Should Be Seen in Person or via Telerehabilitation
Follow CDC recommendations regarding isolation and precautions as well as applicable state regulations and facility protocols. If you determine with your patient that in-person care should be discontinued or delayed, you should carefully discuss options for different care delivery models. Before doing so, investigate the payer's updated policies with respect to telehealth and other remote services, or contact the payer to clarify benefits. You'll find resources to help you with these efforts on the APTA Telehealth webpage.
If you need to terminate the provider relationship while the patient or client continues to need physical therapist services, you should provide notice and information about alternatives for obtaining care, in accordance with APTA Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist.
Determining if Providers Should Report to Work
All health care providers are at some risk for exposure to COVID-19, whether in the workplace or in the community. Health care providers should regularly self-monitor for symptoms and respond accordingly. Those with a known exposure to COVID-19 and those who develop signs or symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should follow CDC recommendations for managing health care personnel as well as state regulations and facility protocols.
Physical Space and Operations to Reduce Risk of Infection
Here are some guidance documents and general considerations:
- Evaluate your treatment and waiting room space design to ensure that patients are always a minimum of six feet apart from one another.
- Follow standard precautions with all patients. Use additional transmission-based precautions when a patient has a known or suspected infection.
- Perform proper hand hygiene in accordance with CDC recommendations for health care settings.
- Clean all equipment, devices, and surfaces between each patient interaction in accordance with CDC recommendations for disinfection and sterilization.
- Provide one-on-one patient care only.
- Adjust your scheduling to minimize the number of patients in the waiting room and to minimize patient overlap. Do not have patients reuse the same sign-in pen.
- Advise patients to wear a face mask or covering always while in the clinic. If your patient does not have a mask, provide one.
- Develop a communication plan for contacting all active patients to notify them of clinic hour changes, reschedule or cancel appointments, and transition as appropriate to eligible telehealth services and other needed communications. The plan should include disaster preparedness and how patients will be contacted in any sudden onset disaster.
Information on COVID-19 and Related Diagnoses
Find the latest scientific evidence in PTJ: Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal, and relevant educational content in the APTA Learning Center as well as the associated diagnosis- and setting-specific resources below:
- Acute care: COVID-19 updates and resources.
- Cardiovascular & Pulmonary: COVID-19 resources.
- Clinical Electrophysiology & Wound Management: COVID-19 education.
- Education: COVID-19 resources.
- Hand & Upper Extremity: The Effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the Peripheral Nervous System: Implications for the Upper Extremity.
- Leadership and Innovation: COVID-19 updates and resources.
- Long COVID: Resources for the physical therapy profession.
- Pediatric and school-based physical therapy.
- Post-intensive Care Syndrome: an overview.
- Sports: Infection control in interscholastic athletic training rooms post COVID-19.
Recommendations for Patients to Stay Active While They're at Home
Several resources have been developed to encourage physical activity while people are social distancing, working remotely, or staying in their homes.
- General exercises — videos (geared toward geriatric and pediatric patients).
- Physical Activity Toolkit (APTA’s ChoosePT.com).
- Physical activity resources (Physical Activity Alliance).
- General physical activity guidelines (American College of Sports Medicine).
- Activity tips (National Council on Aging).