Q&A With Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman on Why AKLOS Health Is the Most Complete Physical Therapy Solution for Your Employees

At this year’s Healthcare Revolution, Super Bowl LIII MVP, Julian Edelman, discussed the importance of properly treating musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders and how to manage the blend of virtual and in-person physical therapy for maximum efficacy. Read on below to learn how to approach MSK like an NFL champion.

Question: We’re seeing an enormous focus on musculoskeletal (“MSK”) solutions in the employer healthcare space, given the costs associated with pain conditions. You have a well-document history of various injuries and pain conditions that all required rehabilitation. Do you think it’s important to have convenient access to MSK care, and do you have any advice for employers looking to implement an MSK solution?

Julian Edelman: I think it’s huge to be able to implement a musculoskeletal solution for employees. I always see people overcompensating in their movements after injuries because they don’t rehab properly, and that can cause further injuries. My advice is to make sure you’re getting a solution that uses real physical therapists that take the time to educate the member, truly teaching them how to incorporate recovery techniques into their everyday routine.

Question: What caught your attention with AKLOS Health?

Julian Edelman: I think it’s crucial for people not to feel pressured into constantly going to a clinic to get their bodies feeling good. There are plenty of great, custom exercise routines you can complete in any setting, particularly at home. AKLOS Health has physical therapists that actually take the time to educate members throughout the recovery process, and their platform saves employees time because you never have to leave home, even for the in-person/in-home visits AKLOS offers. I’ve also not seen a solution on the market that embeds soft tissue mobilization, which is critical. It’s a killer idea for people to enhance their bodies and live pain-free.

Question: How do you build trust, and who do you listen to when you’ve had to recover from pain?

Julian Edelman: Establishing the patient relationship with the physical therapist is important. That’s tough to build in a virtual-only platform. Physical therapists are everything when coming back from an injury, and AKLOS has therapists with great track records and great experience. However, you definitely need to have an in-person component, especially early in the recovery process. The therapist has to see, touch, and feel. The hybrid model works best.

Question: Any other advice for those considering an MSK solution?

Julian Edelman: Physical health is so important, and I’m a huge believer in rehab’s potential to help people. The mentality that you can take a pill and get better really means you’re just masking something. AKLOS offers convenience and helps you become consistent with your rehab, ultimately giving you the ability to live a healthier life.

Strike the appropriate balance between virtual and in-person physical therapy for your workers

It’s difficult to “virtually” investigate a member’s pain condition fully. A significant piece of all traditional physical therapy evaluations is, of course, physical. A member’s description of their condition doesn’t tell the whole story. Often, a member is not able to articulate “guarding” or “over-protection” of a muscle. This can only be detected by a trained clinician performing a manual assessment. If excessive muscle guarding is present, the treatment program should be tailored accordingly. Additionally, joints will behave differently based on the severity of a condition, and these distinct joint motion patterns are only detectable through specific hands-on orthopedic tests.  

When clinicians are forced to initially assess a member’s pain condition with a questionnaire and video call as their only tools, key information may be missed that could impact the clinical efficacy of the overall care plan for the member. This can lead to waste and drive costs because the member was not placed on the proper care path from day one.

After a comprehensive initial in-person assessment, members can work with their therapist to determine the best mix of virtual and in-person (in-home) sessions. If the therapist can confidently design a custom treatment program from day one, members will find that they’re able to successfully complete most of their sessions virtually with appropriate oversight from their care team.

According to a new survey from Evernorth, virtual-only programs are not receiving optimal satisfaction rates from patients. The survey involved 3,000 customers, 575 human resource professionals, and 58 health plan leaders. Findings suggest that virtual care is not perceived as “optimal” in all settings, with physical therapy receiving a 5% satisfaction rate.    

A likely explanation for the low satisfaction rate with virtual-only physical therapy is that consumers are never physically evaluated by a live physical therapist. Current virtual programs rely on questionnaires and, in some cases, virtual assessments. Unfortunately, these tools do not tell the patient’s entire story.

According to this recent survey, the future success of these virtual platforms will be predicated on a balanced, hybrid model that integrates in-person care with virtual solutions.

In-Person Initial Assessments With a Doctor of Physical Therapy

Soft Tissue Mobilization

Amongst those living with chronic pain, the brain often turns off proper messaging to muscles surrounding a joint as a natural “guarding” method. This protection mechanism creates increased pain and irritability in movement. Unique protocols to address this situation can be utilized with a soft tissue tool.

Ignoring the soft tissue component of chronic pain in a virtual platform is a mistake.

According to this recent survey, the future success of these virtual platforms will be predicated on a balanced, hybrid model that integrates in-person care with virtual solutions.

Research supports the need to acknowledge the soft tissue component of chronic pain. A systematic review of the literature reveals significant improvements in muscle flexibility and activity with soft tissue therapy.1 Additionally, soft tissue therapy had a direct correlation to a reduction in pain, increase in function, and quality of life.

Traditionally, soft tissue therapy is performed during an in-person physical therapy session. However, with advances being made in instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy, it can easily be implemented at home by a consumer.

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