07 Nov Technology And The Future Of Movement Therapy
The business of personal training and allied healthcare as we know it is coming to an end.
Clients and patients are demanding a different level of care, interaction and lifestyle management, and they are doing this by voting with their dollars. Technology is making business both easier and more complicated at the same time – so how do businesses who work in allied health, personal training, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and occupational therapy adapt and thrive in a changing environment?
Tell us a bit about what you do…
I attended the American College of Sports Medicine where I did a Certificate in Exercise Physiology. I was also a Master Trainer for several companies within the US including Power Plate.
I specialise in neuro rehabilitation as it is a close and personal passion of mine. In 2002, I needed to learn how to walk again and I found it difficult to find someone who could help me with the rehabilitation I knew I needed. This encouraged me to go back to University and get a Degree in Personal Rehabilitation. From there, people wanted me to talk to their friends who have Multiple Sclerosis, which in turn, evolved into a clinic and then into a Private Practice. The interesting part about all of this is that it is more about lifestyle management… Patients come to me for the movements and then I am able to send them out for acupuncture or massage, or if they need a check up with their Physio or Chiro – it is tailored for them to have the access!
I believe that there has to be a holistic approach to rehabilitation to compete in the current market. Clients expect a high level of service, however there is a lot of information available on the Internet! I frequently see patients self-diagnosing, using wearables or bio hacking and when they come back to the clinician, they say they need assistant translating what it means! As a practitioner, you need to take into account all of the bio hacking, wearable devices and their entire lifestyle. It all needs to be managed well.
From your point of view, do you think technology will help or hinder current health professionals?
In the Silicone Valley there are a lot of start-ups, you see people walking around with armbands or something weird on their shirts and think what’s going on? So, while I don’t push wearables, I see the value of wearables. Wearables also need to be managed! For example, I had a client who came in and said, ‘this is how many steps I’ve walked’ and you look at it and think there is just no way that this person can walk that much. You ask them how and they respond with, ‘Yeah I was really surprised how much I walked’, so you start asking more questions. Turns out she had her wearable on the wrong part of her body, so it was actually registering a lot more steps than she was actually taking. So… you get that.
I’m sure you’ve seen articles about people who’ve got wearables and put on weight?
Because it gets plugged it directly into a phone, you’re not really connecting with you, so people assume that it is a good way to manage their lifestyle or make a lifestyle change however it still needs a human being. I’m a big advocate for technology, as long as people understand and what they are actually using and that they are using the right technology in the right way for them.
What are some of the things current Allied Health professionals can do to embrace the shift towards a more tech based industry?
Allied Health Professionals really need to curate the relationship between the person and the wearable. If I had my way, I would be using pencil and pen for the rest of my life! I find learning to use apps on my phone really bizzare but that is just where the industry is going and to stay competitive, you need to embrace it at a level that you are confortable with.
A person will come to you, as the clinician and say ‘I’m going to get a wearable, do you think a wearable will help me do XYZ?’ Here, you need to know what’s on the market and you need to know which one would actually work the person. For example, some of the wearables are better for sleep tracking, or movement tracking. The scary part is that technology is very accessible and it can also very expensive… people need to be very careful in what they invest in, especially in Australia.
I was home a couple months ago and I noticed it is expensive for technology to get in to Australia. I ran a Power Plate workshop whilst I was in Perth and people were saying that they all had a WBV Plate, yet when they got on the power plate, they said, ‘This is sooo different, I should’ve spent the extra money to get the power plate.’ That’s where I think it’s really hard because everything costs more in Australia.
Some apps can be a bit of a gimmick. For consumers and Allied Health professionals, is there a way to tell what apps are worth investing time in?
Apps can be really tricky as several things happen with them… The issue with app companies is that they go out of business all of the time or they are bought out by other companies, especially in the health industry. Even something as simple as appointment tracking for your clients, so many have come and gone in the last 10 years. What I always tell people is that you need to create a business and a relationship with the client, so that you can never be replaced by an app.
People ask me what I think of apps and I say that I love apps… I don’t use them but I love them because it’s great for my business! I always say to people, on a business level, don’t be afraid of apps because if you are good at your job, you can never be replaced by an app. The second part is that it is still the same as wearables. You have to help your clients manage it, because what does it mean if it says ‘I slept for four hours and I had 2 REM cycles’… most people don’t know whether that was a good sleep or not. They still need the human interface and I think Allied Health professionals are in a great place currently as it’s not just about repairing injuries, it’s about creating a lifestyle for your clients and your patients.
We’ve heard that Virtual Reality training as a form of movement therapy and even for neurological disorders, is on the rise. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s just the first step into Virtual Reality (VR), the first thing that I would say for VR is just pain management. We have been working on things such as biofeedback therapy and different breathing exercises… being able to put your client into a VR state to manage pain and to create good movement, even if it is pretend movement, whilst trying to trigger the nervous system is brilliant. I think it has a long way to go though.
Looking at it as more of a therapeutic medical state rather than just for gaming, I think we have a few more years before integration, however it is definitely going in the right direction!
As an Allied Health professional, how do you see yourself adapting to the rise of technology?
I’ve created a good relationship with my clients, whereby when they are interested in a piece of technology, we go through the education around it, together. Sometimes it can be difficult as your clients can purchase something and you may be thinking, why did you buy that?! But it’s about creating a team environment, as it is the same as a client who needs physio, massage or acupuncture… Not everything is going to work for everybody and it’s exactly the same with technology. If you know the technology inside and out and you know your clients well enough, you are able to become that knowledge base for them and it will assist them in integrating technology into their lifestyle and wellness routines. It will also allow you to advise them if it’s not going to work for you and you have that relationship to advise them as to why.
Lastly, is there anything in the works for you at the moment?
Yes! At the moment I am looking for final stage funding to open up a facility with emerging technology. I am hoping to create a facility that has curated technology and I am hoping to help people that have start up ideas or to give them a space to nurture that.
CONNECT WITH FIONA