1. Shaw, Donald K. PhD, PT

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The American Physical Therapy Association estimates less than one percent of American physical therapists (PT's) select cardiac rehabilitation as their primary practice interest. Ironically, a majority of PT's treat older patients for whom cardiac disease is the primary diagnosis. Since few patients participate in formal cardiac rehabilitation programs (<=80%), PT's often face the daunting task of providing safe exercise guidelines for patients at home or in other unsupervised settings.



The combination of low therapist interest and potential exercise safety issues led to the development of a unique training program for PT's at Texas State University. In 2002 and 2003, the Physical Therapy Department received several grants to initiate a Telehealth Program. The purpose of this program is to provide additional training in cardiac rehabilitation practice while improving patient exercise surveillance. Using affordable standard telephone lines, PT's simultaneously monitor ECG and voice communication from patients who exercise at home or in outpatient facilities. Students are assigned specific telehealth patients during their cardiopulmonary course work. Faculty members then supervise each student during patient evaluation, formulation of exercise prescription, and monitored sessions. Low income patients are offered the program at no cost while all others pay on a fee for service basis. As the program grows, broadband digital lines will be added to provide rural clinics with clear video and as well as audio capability.



Goal of the Texas State University Telehealth Program is to promote further PT professional development and enhance cardiac rehabilitation delivery through advances in communication technology.