Do you require physiotherapy treatment for any of your health-related issues? But are afraid of visiting a nearby physiotherapy clinic and are also afraid to avail yourself the physiotherapy services at your home due to COVID-19? If so, then now you don’t need to refrain because we have now moved from fear and anxiety to hope generated by the availability of vaccines. The only thing you need to be careful about is maintaining hygienic conditions to keep yourself safe during this pandemic. This pandemic is an outbreak and has changed the standards of working for employees and employers, across the globe. And physiotherapists need to deliver their services in this new normal by taking safety precautions and maintaining hygienic conditions. The purpose of this blog is to provide a set of protocols that the patient, physiotherapist, and clinical staff requires to follow when wanting to access or deliver physical therapy services or Physiotherapy rehabilitation for COVID-19 patients while safeguarding themselves. Given below are the guidelines and protocols that are expected to be followed in COVID-safe physiotherapy clinics or during COVID-safe home visits. 

Guidelines and protocol for Safe Physiotherapy Clinic visit:

These guidelines and protocols will start when the patient enters the clinic, right up until the end of the rehabilitation session and when he leaves the clinic.
  • All the treatments should be appointment based and the scheduled time should be strictly followed to prevent over-crowding in the clinic.
  • In case any patient is suffering from fever, cold, or cough, they should cancel their appointments. 
  • On entering the clinic the patient should sanitize his hands and should be allowed to enter only if he is wearing a mask. It is mandatory to wear a mask before he steps into the clinic or else he can be provided with one by the clinic. The temperature should be checked and disposable gloves should be provided to put on their hands. 
  • Only one attendant should be allowed with the patient. As the patient steps into the clinic, social distancing should be maintained. They can remove the footwear outside and can put another pair of footwear inside which is again sanitized. The clinic can provide them with disposable shoe cover to put on.
  • A receptionist or an assistant therapist can guide the patient across the clinic without involving the other therapists, each therapist operates in such a manner, that congestion is not increased and facilitates safe patient flow.
  • When the patient enters the treatment room, a disposable headcover is provided as most of the infection travels through hair. In the room, the treatment beds and pillow should be covered with a non-cotton sheet or tissue roll. Once the treatment is done, the cover or the tissue roll is discarded and the equipment is again sanitized. So all the hygienic and safety conditions are maintained.
  • Daily cleaning should be maintained in the clinic. Disposable wipes or sanitizers should be used to sanitize the countertops, doorknobs, toilets, floor, machines, parallel bars, exercise equipment like dumbells, etc. Doors, tables, beds, chairs, etc should be sanitized during the start and end of clinical hours. 

Guidelines and protocol for the Therapist and the Supporting Staff:

  • The therapists and the supporting staff should be vaccinated and antibody testing. The staff should be given training to make them aware of workplace hygiene. Surfaces, objects, and equipment should be cleaned and sanitized before and after use.
  • When entering the clinic the therapist and the supporting staff should remove the mask, discard it, wash hands for at least 20 seconds and wear the fresh disposable mask. Then check the body temperature of each staff member, assuring safety.
  • Regular hands-wash before and after the treatment should be made mandatory. For the therapist, hand hygiene is very important before and after the patient contact and before putting on and removing the gloves, gown, eye protection shield, or glasses and mask. After hand-wash put on non-sterile gloves when entering the room or treatment area of the patient.
  • The therapist should put on a clean gown upon entering the room or region of the patient, taking all the precautionary measures as well as safety measures with the patient. After the treatment, the session removes and disposes of the gown in a designated waste or linen tub before leaving the room or treatment area. If using disposable gowns the gowns should be discarded after use but for cloth gowns, after each use cloth gowns, should be laundered.
  • Disposable caps should be put in, to prevent hair from falling thus preventing the spread of infection as most infections are transmitted through hair.
  • Eye protection shields or glasses can also be used for safety purposes.

Guidelines and protocol for Safe Home Visits:

  • Before scheduling the home visit screening should be done for identifying any risk of becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 or any history of illness within the household. Screening for symptoms of COVID-19 with the household members should be done. 
  • All family members except infants should have access to mask during the treatment session. If not, then there should be some alternative safe place for the treatment session to be conducted.
  • Before entering the home for a home visit, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and wear a mask, gown, and eye protection shield or goggles. Before entering the home wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Perform daily temperature and symptom checks especially before entering the home.
  • Screen household members before or immediately upon arrival. Screening for the symptoms of COVID-19 includes cough, fever, shortness of breath, body aches, and loss of smell or taste. Limit contact with the family members, when not providing direct care. Make the family members aware of possible exposures, the presence of signs or symptoms in the household members, recent travel, and recent visitors. Wear a mask or cloth covering the face.
  • All supplies, equipment's, and materials, used in the home must be cleaned and sanitized.
  • After conducting a home visit remove and discard the mask, gloves, and gown outside of the home and replace them with new ones.
The rate of infection which is prevalent in the community these days is because of the irresponsible behaviour of the people rather than the viral load. The irresponsible behaviour of people like not wearing masks, not maintaining social distancing, and not following health hygiene is the main reasons to blame behind this wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.