Shenandoah University alumnus Jeff Botta ’10, DPT, is in the vanguard of providing teletherapy services through his Winchester, Virginia, physical therapy practice. He is choosing to implement and advocate for the utilization of this new wave of health care.
Teletherapy is still new and still growing, and I am learning as I go,” said Botta.
Botta, who attended Old Dominion University for his bachelor’s degree, decided to pursue a career in physical therapy because it “satisfied the sports itch for me, but also offered a very diverse path for me.” Along with some interactions with various impressive physical therapists in his high school sports days, Botta said physical therapy “fit me.”
That’s what’s so cool about physical therapy, you can go so many ways. You can do your classic outpatient ortho and see post-surgical patients. You can do more of the home health. You can work in a hospital. There’s a vast amount of ways you can go with it.”
He credits much of his success as a physical therapist to the faculty members in Shenandoah’s School of Health Professions, including Dean of the School of Health Professions Karen Abraham, Ph.D. He remembers fondly the application process, where candidates were interviewed before being accepted.
Several programs that I applied to didn’t do an interview, so that was something that definitely stood out — that Shenandoah wanted to get to know me.”
After graduating from Shenandoah, Botta worked at Valley Health/Winchester Medical Center’s Wellness Center. He then went to Professional Sports Care and Rehab in Inwood, West Virginia. When Pivot Physical Therapy bought Professional Sports Care and Rehab and gave him the opportunity to open up a clinic in Winchester, he jumped at the chance.
Botta has been working with clients at Pivot in Winchester for two years. In keeping up with the latest methods in the physical therapy and health industries, Botta caught wind of teletherapy as a way to work with patients in a safe, convenient way, from anywhere there is internet access. Botta, who practices in Virginia and West Virginia, said he thinks “the potential is so vast.”
What’s interesting to me about [teletherapy] is that you can bring physical therapy to a patient who has a hard time getting to the clinic or a patient who wants to get more education about physical therapy.”
Through teletherapy, he connects with patients via his laptop or phone. Botta recommends exercises and programs to patients and makes baseline injury assessments across Virginia and West Virginia through his teletherapy business, Pocket Physical Therapy. And just as his slogan says, he makes it possible to have a physical therapist in your pocket. Even so, he said he would never dream of teletherapy replacing in-person physical therapy. “It doesn’t replace outpatient physical therapy, but in certain aspects I think it’s very appropriate for the right type of patient,” said Botta.
He also suggests the possibility of implementing teletherapy in a “hybrid model,” combining both the in-person and online models. He is also looking forward to the prospect of bringing telehealth into the classroom, perhaps at his alma mater. Botta is interested in addressing the question of “How can we utilize telehealth most effectively?” in physical therapy education. Although he recognizes the value of hands-on learning, he thinks students should be taught how to “use teletherapy as a tool to supplement those other skills and at times replace traditional therapy.”
Additionally, the Virginia Beach native turned Winchester resident would like to encourage Shenandoah students to “go away from what the crowd is doing,” in order to follow their passions.