Physical therapy student develops therapeutic exercise Web product

Scott Hebert, a student in our doctor of physical therapy program, created TheraVid, a Web-based exercise prescription tool that uses high-definition exercise videos and an online interface for rehabilitation providers and their patients.

By Christina Casinelli ’11
Graduate assistant, Office of Public Affairs

During a clinical rotation at an outpatient physical therapy facility during his junior year, Scott Hebert began to experience a frustration that is common among physical therapists. After prescribing home exercises to their patients, physical therapists have little to offer other than verbal instructions and printed handouts.

“The images on the sheets were confusing, and they were definitely underutilized by the patients,” said Hebert, a student in the doctor of physical therapy program in the School of Health Sciences.

Believing there had to be a better method, he began researching alternatives. When he discovered that the alternatives available weren’t as advanced as he believed they could be, Hebert started working on what would become TheraVid.

TheraVid is a Web-based home exercise prescription tool that uses high-definition exercise videos and an online interface for rehabilitation providers and their patients. The website currently features a library of more than 250 videos and an easy-to-use interface. Clinicians log into the website, load exercise videos to a patient’s profile and send the patient a link to their prescribed exercise.

Patients can then log in and watch the videos, as well as see any personalized comments the clinician has left for them. Patients and clinicians have the option of printing out copies of the handouts with personalized notes. The website also allows patient to send questions directly to the clinician if there is something about their exercise regimen they don’t fully understand.

TheraVid is currently being used by eight clinics throughout Connecticut. The feedback from these clinics has been primarily positive and has been very helpful in determining the site’s direction.

“We basically told these therapists ‘You can help us build the program you want,’ and they’ve been very responsive and helpful, especially by suggesting exercises to add,” Hebert said.

“A tool like this gives clinicians the ability to continue a dialogue with the patients after they’ve left the office,” Hebert said. “We’re hoping a service like this will give therapists the opportunity to increase their number of return patients.”

When he says “we,” Hebert is referring to the professors and classmates who have assisted him with this project, including Ryan Klepp, a graduate student also in his sixth year of the doctor of physical therapy program, who has been instrumental in helping Hebert market TheraVid.

“We don’t have any marketing knowledge or experience,” Klepp said. “We really just looked for clinics that already had a strong Web presence and started picking up the phone.”

In addition to what the website currently offers, Hebert has even bigger plans for TheraVid. He hopes to add information about patients’ diagnoses to their pages to help better educate them about the types of injuries they have.

“The more educated the patient, the better the outcome,” Hebert said.

While TheraVid is still in its developmental stage, Hebert believes this is the direction physical therapy may be headed. While other specialties in the health care field are changing more rapidly and dramatically, there’s only so much physical therapy can change, Hebert said. Sites and services such as Theravid allow physical therapists to improve the level of care and communication they share with their patients.

“I asked myself, ‘What do I want when I graduate?’” Hebert said. “‘What type of tools do I want available to me?’ TheraVid is the type of tool that I want to be using in the future, and I think a lot of therapists will feel the same way.”

Categories: News, School of Health Sciences

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