Determining Gaps in Current Physiatric Tele-Physical Assessments via a Needs Assessment Survey

Keerthana Chakka, Richard Wu, Sara Belko, Thiru Annaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Physical examinations are essential for in-person patient visits but remain difficult to replicate during virtual encounters. This work aims to identify gaps in the current state of telemedicine-based physical assessments by surveying physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians who perform physical examinations. Design A survey of 29 Likert-scale questions and five open-ended questions was distributed to practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians. The Likert-scale questions covered remote physical assessment, access, perception/engagement, implementation/effectiveness, and administrative concerns. Results Fifty-three participants completed the survey. More than 80% of respondents suggested that while telemedicine was universally well accepted, they could not effectively perform telemedicine-based physical assessments, especially the musculoskeletal and neurological components. Remote assessment of upper and lower limb strength, reflexes, and sensation were examples of key unmet needs. Responses to open-ended questions suggested that telemedicine-based physical assessments can reduce the burden of travel and increase adherence to follow-up visits, but complex technology setup can pose difficulty for older patients and patients with cognitive deficits. Conclusions These findings suggest that current telemedicine technology is insufficient to meet physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians' telemedicine-based physical assessments needs. Despite high levels of provider and patient engagement with telemedicine, numerous deficits remain in performing musculoskeletal and neurological examinations. These results can inform future technology developments that address these identified telemedicine-based physical assessments gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-686
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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