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Gifts expand reach of Telehealth Program at Texas State

Date of Release: 04/29/2005

SANMARCOS—The Department of Physical Therapy’s Telehealth Program at Texas State University-San Marcos has taken a big step forward with the addition of four new digital dataphones provided by CenturyTel and the Scotty Group.

The equipment and support software came through a challenge grant issued by CenturyTel, explained Donald Shaw, Ph.D., P.T., director of the Texas State Telehealth Program. The North Carolina-based Scotty Group responded to the challenge immediately, tremendously expanding the program’s ability to monitor patients in remote locations.

“This increases the number of patients we can monitor and it increases our outreach. We can do it better now,” Shaw said. “Rather than working over a plain telephone line, we operate over DSL. Bandwidth has gone through the roof, so we can monitor anything you can imagine. We can monitor patients in their own home, and even have video capabilities.”

Supporting the Telehealth Program was an easy decision, said John Navarrette of CenturyTel, and the opportunity to involve other corporations was a bonus.

“Because CenturyTel has been an innovator in technology--broadband especially--we like to do seed projects. Not just donate money, but to help other companies and donors get involved,” Navarrette said. “We’re trying to be a good corporate citizen. We’re advancing health services--and personally, as I get older I see a bigger need for health services. I want to see top-notch services delivered.”

The opportunity to cooperate with the Texas State Telehealth Program came at the perfect time, said Mike Becker, Director of Sales for the Scotty Group, as the company looks to expand its efforts in the direction of cardiology.

“We really believe that cardiac rehab is an area that can benefit from visualization in-home rehab,” Becker said. “It’s one of the areas we want to explore in a clinic environment, and this was a great opportunity to get our equipment into a renown facility. We really look forward to seeing the research efforts and data that come out of the project.”

Founded in 2002, Texas State operates the only university-based Transtelephonic Exercise Monitoring (TEM) program in the nation. The program is designed specifically for those who are geographically displaced or at a lower socioeconomic level. Physical therapy students work with the cardiac rehabilitation patients long-distance, using state-of-the-art technology that enables them to talk and view ECG data simultaneously as they monitor heart patients and guide exercise therapy.

Patients or physicians interested in learning more about the Telehealth Program may contact Dr. Shaw at (512) 245-9613.