To determine the level of evidence for the effectiveness of telerehabilitation against comparison interventions in improving child- and parent-related outcomes in children and youth with developmental disabilities.
A systematic approach, comprised of a comprehensive search; transparent study selection, data extraction, quality assessment by independent reviewers; and synthesis of sufficiently similar data (per diagnostic group, health profession, and overall level of evidence for each outcome) was undertaken.
Fifty-five studies (29 randomized trials) were included across six diagnostic groups and ten health professions. Common telerehabilitation targets varied across diagnostic groups and included motor function, behavior, language, and parental self-efficacy. Telerehabilitation was found to be either more effective or as effective versus comparison intervention in improving 46.9% or 53.1% of outcomes, respectively. It was never found to be detrimental or less effective. Strong to moderate, limited, and insufficient levels of evidence were found for 36.5%, 24.5%, and 38.6% of the outcomes, respectively.
There is sufficient evidence suggesting that telerehabilitation is a promising alternative when face-to-face care is limited. It is comparable to usual care and is more effective than no treatment. Blending in-person and telerehabilitation approaches could be beneficial for the post-pandemic future of rehabilitation in pediatric care.
Ogourtsova, T., Boychuck, Z., O’Donnell, M., Ahmed, S., Osman, G., & Majnemer, A. (2022). Telerehabilitation for Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: A Systematic Review. Physical & Occupational Therapy In Pediatrics, 1-47.