Getting started with telerehab


Author(s): Dunn, T. (MSc student), Ogourtsova, T. (PhD OT), & Osman, G. (MSc OT student)

This page provides evidence-based recommendations to better support families as they prepare for telerehab. Each section presents clear, practical, and comprehensive information to assist and streamline preparation. To quickly navigate between sections, click the desired menu title in the Table of Contents.

Important considerations for device and wifi access

Situation 1: If you have a device and secure wifi access available at home, continue to the next section "What items required for telerehab?"

Situation 2: If you have a device, but do not have wifi accessible at home:
Explore accessing a wifi connection at your child's school, a local library, or a community center.
  • Some public, college and school libraries are now lending small Wi-Fi hotspot devices that you can check out like a book. They plug into your smartphone or computer and provide free Wi-Fi service. The library staff can let you know what areas are best to connect to the service and how far away you can be from a cell tower.
  • If you have a vehicle, you may be able to connect to a library remotely from a parking lot. Vehicles can be a private, quiet place. Be sure to safely park before starting the visit.

Situation 3: If you don't have a device for your appointment:
Explore the alternatives through your child's educational institution, or your local community center.
  • Does your child have a laptop at home that they use for school? Contact the school to ask if you can use it for a telehealth visit.
  • If your public library or child's school library is open, ask if they have a quiet, private space or reading room with a computer to reserve.
  • Remember to write down the link you received for the telehealth visit so you can type it into the library's computer browser.
  • If obtaining a video-enabled device or access to wifi is not possible, be sure to contact your practitioner and ask about conducting the appointment through a phone call.
For more support with remote access/no device, see the "Telerehab Checklist - Remote Wifi Access" in the Pre-Appointment 1-page resources below.

What items are required for telerehab?

  1. Secure wifi connection
  2. Wifi + video-enable device (e.g. smart phone, laptop, tablet)
  3. A quiet, private space to conduct the appointment
  4. Power charger for your device
  5. Power outlet
  6. Seating for yourself and your child
  7. Lighting
  8. A place for your device, providing optimal observation for your practitioner (e.g. a desk or table for a laptop/tablet, ring light with phone stand)
  9. A digital app or platform on your device (e.g. Zoom, Skype)
  10. The link to attend your appointment
  11. Current medical information (e.g. your child's medical card, referrals, consent forms)

Preparing your space

  • Find a quiet space. Limit background sound – turn off music and the TV. Limit the number of other family members or people in the same room. Limit noise from pets (e.g. dogs barking). This will allow for less distraction and provide privacy for discussion and examination with your child and provider. If the telerehab platform audio settings allow, select "Reduce Background Sound" on your application (e.g. Zoom)
  • Light up the space as much as possible. Have your light in front of you, not behind you (don’t sit with your back to a bright window) so that your provider can see you and your child well. Position your child in a way that makes it easiest for the provider to examine them clearly.
  • Equip yourself! Make sure your device is charged, and you have a charger available. Better yet, if possible, plug in your device during your visit. Video sessions can drain a device battery quickly and cause unwanted interruptions, possibly ending your visit early. Other equipment might be useful to have on hand, such as a thermometer, a scale (or know your child’s weight), assistive devices your child uses, and a pencil or pen and paper for notetaking.
  • Remove distractions for the virtual visit. This includes:
    • Other people, including siblings
    • Pets
    • Electronics you are not using to communicate with the doctor
    • Toys that make noise
    • A comfort item may be helpful for your child during the virtual visit. The comfort item should be small and quiet. A favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or doll are good options.

Recommendations for Child/Teen Comfort and Privacy

Privacy is an important part of your child's comfort. Put your child at ease by making the consultation as private as possible. Attend the virtual visit in a place that is most comfortable for your them. This could be their bedroom, the kitchen, their playroom, or a quiet room at school.

For younger children:
  • Practice the visit ahead of time. You could use another video conferencing platform, such as Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Roleplay with your child and take turns asking questions as the doctor.
  • Ask your child what questions they have about the virtual visit. Give them any answers you may have and write down the rest for the doctor to answer.
  • At the start of the appointment, encourage your child or teen to say what they want to get out of it. This can help older children and teenagers feel in control during the appointment. At the end, encourage your child to ask any questions that they have. Let your child have some or all of the appointment on their own, if that feels right for your child.
For tweens/teens:
  • Ask if your teen would like to have the appointment by themself. Tweens and teens may feel more comfortable talking to the doctor if you give them some privacy. They are used to the technology, but having you next to them may make them shy. Leave the room and don’t listen at the door. Assure your teen they will have privacy if they ask for it. You could do this by saying, ‘You can talk to the GP in the lounge room with the door shut. I’ll go into the kitchen and put the radio on, so I won’t overhear you’.

Pre-appointment 1-page resources

Preparation is an important part of telerehab, so this section is designed to assist you. These user-friendly resource documents break down and organize recommended tasks so they are clear and easy to complete. They can be downloaded and filled out digitally and saved as a PDF on your device, or printed and filled out by hand.
  1. Patient Information Form: This includes relevant questions for you and your child to fill out so you have information readily available for the practitioner. To download the Patient Information Form PDF click here.
  2. Pre-Appointment Checklist - For wifi at home: This checklist breaks down tasks into 4 time points to help you organize and reduce stress leading up to the appointment. To download the Pre-Appointment Checklist: Wifi at Home PDF click here.
  3. Pre-Appointment Checklist - For remote wifi access: If you do not have wifi or a device at home, this checklist provides suggestions on how to obtain them, and breaks down tasks into 4 time points to help you organize and reduce stress leading up to the appointment. To download the Pre-Appointment Checklist: Remote Wifi Access PDF click here.