What Is Telepractice and Does It Work?
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Maybe you are a busy parent and you get home just in time for dinner and bedtime routines and there simply isn’t time to make it to the appointment for your child’s speech treatment. Or maybe you are a caregiver of someone who is not ambulatory or becomes easily worn out traveling to and from appointments and the thought of going to another doctor’s office is just too much. Maybe you live an hour away from the nearest speech pathologist. If any of these scenarios apply, then its time to consider adding telepractice to your “shopping cart”.
When telelpractice is delivered with a good understanding of the technology and with plenty of available resources such as diagnostic and intervention web-based tools, it provides a more convenient experience for the client with the same high-quality care for a variety of patients with a wide range of ages and disorders (Whales, Skinner & Hayman, 2017).
A common misconception is that telepractice is not as interactive or personal than in-person therapy; however; Hall et al., Lee et al.2, Whales et al.3and others have studied telepractice and have shown it to be as effective as face-to-face interactions, with the added benefit of being very convenient for the patient. Research conducted has proven that assessment, intervention, and consultative services performed using telelpractice are effective and equivalent to in-person services (Hall et al, 2013).
The materials used for speech and language therapy are scanned in or web-based and at the click of a button, they can be shared electronically and appear right on the patient’s computer screen. In fact, the activities and materials are so interactive and engaging that it has been reported to me that these high interest tasks often continue well beyond the therapy sessions. Apps can be used interchangeably with other tools that we use in therapy. For example, I use an app to capture vocal loudness during voice therapy. It serves the same purpose as a sound pressure level meter, the tool that is used for in-person voice therapy. Children who enjoy technology love using telepractice and the apps that I share with them and are subsequently very motivated to participate in therapy. For swallowing therapy, I can provide tips for preparing solids/liquids to the right consistency using the ingredients that the patient would be using from their own kitchen on a regular basis if their diet has been modified.
In my experience as a speech pathologist using telelpractice to deliver speech, language, voice and swallowing therapy and evaluations, I feel that it is just as personal as in-person therapy and my relationships with my patients are deeply meaningful. The ability to reach clients who would otherwise not be receiving services because of a busy lifestyle, transportation issues or living too far is very rewarding. Another added benefit of telepractice is that treatment is delivered in the patient’s natural environment so I can see if modifications can be made to facilitate communication or swallowing. I often have the opportunity to meet the family members, caregivers (or even the pets!) of the client which is important since they are tend to be involved in the patient’s daily communication encounters.
I hope that you will take a look at my website to learn more about my offerings and consider using Connected Speech Pathology to meet your speech pathology needs. I am always happy to talk it over if you have any questions.
Hall, N., Boisvert, M., & Steele, R. (2013). Telepractice in the Assessment and Treatment of Individuals with Aphasia: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 5(1), 27–38. http://doi.org/10.5195/ijt.2013.6119
Lee, S.A. (2018). The treatment efficacy of multiple opposition phonological approach via telepractice for two children with severe phonological disorders in rural areas of West Texas in the USA. Journal of Child Language and Teaching Therapy, 34 (1), 63-78.https://doi.org/10.1177/0265659018755527
Wales, D., Skinner, L., & Hayman, M. (2017). The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(1), 55–70. http://doi.org/10.5195/ijt.2017.6219