Seattle Children’s has virtual appointments readily available at the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic with little to no wait (same as in-person appointments).  Access is excellent at all our locations: Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee. Telemedicine appointments are ideal for orthopedic and sports medicine visits that do not require a physical exam.

Types of Appointments Well-Suited to Telemedicine

  • New patient visits: When a physical exam is not needed, providers can take a history and hear the patient’s story virtually. Families can get a good idea of whether there is harm in waiting or if treatment is recommended sooner.
  • Review imaging and/or lab tests: Providers can share their screen with families and review images with them just as well as during an in-person visit, if not better.
  • Concussion follow-up visits: Providers mainly offer education and counseling when a repeat exam is not needed.
  • Some observations and pain tests: Providers can still “see” the injury or joint and assess for localization, swelling and motion. Providers can then give an opinion on next steps (i.e., whether to get imaging or to start with a specific treatment right away or if it is okay to delay interventions).
  • Cast removal: A new at-home cast-off program is available for patients with a stable fracture that won’t require new X-rays after casting. When the cast is applied, it is bivalved and resecured with medical tape.  The family removes the cast at home when it is time and self-applies a brace, without needing to come back in.  Our provider walks the patient/family through the process remotely. We observe the parent’s exam, the body part and range of motion and give advice on activities, rehab and return to sports and exercise.

Seattle Children’s providers sometimes order imaging for out-of-area patients from their local community hospital and review it virtually together afterward. Families benefit by getting their imaging done at a close-by facility that is less busy than Seattle Children’s and avoid any unease with coming to a tertiary care center.

Ruling Out the Bad Things

Orthopedics and Sports Medicine visits typically rely heavily on physical exams, but telemedicine is often useful for assessing urgency or ordering imaging that could be reassuring. “We can rule out the bad things,” says Dr. John Lockhart. “Telemedicine offers a no-risk way to assess the situation more thoroughly. We may end up saying ‘wait and watch’ or possibly recommend PT to see if the problem improves, or another appropriate treatment.  Potentially we would encourage a more urgent visit and help facilitate scheduling for a more thorough evaluation including exam. At the very least it gives families peace of mind when they don’t want to physically come to the hospital but want help for their child.”

Orthopedic Injuries During COVID

Sports injuries are down overall, but trauma injuries continue. Over the summer, kids were getting hurt in new and different ways as they tried new things. “We saw a lot of broken wrists from skateboarding, scooters and hoverboards,” says Lockhart.  Winter weather and quarantining from COVID-19 may keep trauma injuries lower than normal, “but if a family could benefit from an orthopedic or sports medicine consultation, we want them to know telemedicine is an option,” says Lockhart.

Telemedicine Is Here to Stay

Telemedicine has been well received by families needing orthopedic care, particularly out-of-area families, and will continue to be a staple of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine’s offering even after the pandemic.

Reminder: Appointments Now Required for Imaging

Radiology is requiring appointments for imaging during COVID-19 in order to keep families safely spaced. If you send your family for imaging, please submit an order and remind the family to call Radiology at 206-987-2089 to schedule an appointment.

Phone Numbers

  • Provider-to-Provider Line: 206-987-7777
  • Orthopedics: 206-987-2109 (Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee)
  • Sports Medicine: 206-987-7678 (Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way)
  • Physical Therapy: 206-987-2113 (Seattle, Everett, Federal Way)
  • Sports Physical Therapy: 206-987-6400 (Seattle, Everett, Federal Way)
  • Radiology: 206-987-2089 (Seattle), 425-454-4644 (Bellevue), 425-783-6200 (Everett), 253-838-5878 (Federal Way)