Speech-Language Pathology in a Changing World: A Shift to Telehealth and “Hybrid” Therapy
By: Emily Wolkenberg, MA, SLP
This past year has been a challenge and has required a tremendous amount of flexibility and adaptability, both in our personal and professional lives. The field of Speech-Language Pathology has been no exception. Beyond Limits Rehabilitation strives for the highest safety standards amid a pandemic; however, we realize that our patients may hesitate to regularly come in-person to Speech Therapy. For this reason, our team of Speech-Language Pathologists has continued to evolve and transition into the realm of telehealth to meet patient needs.
While the field has shifted to telehealth, studies have been underway to assess the efficacy of speech evaluations and treatments conducted online. The Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research recently published an article, cited below, with good news for both Speech-Language Pathologists and their patients: child language samples conducted remotely hold the same validity as they do in-person! In fact, telehealth has been a proven form of therapy for over ten years. Check out Grogran-Johnson et al’s study, listed below, from back in 2010. The results of these studies are game-changing in that parents can rest assured that their children can be evaluated for speech and/or language therapy from the comfort of their own home via telehealth.
As a clinician, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to expand on services we already provide our patients. Not only can patient evaluations be conducted online, but telehealth can also be used to enhance in-person therapy. In pediatric speech therapy, parental education is paramount, and the research agrees. A study published in the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders addressed the importance of parental involvement in Speech Therapy. Researchers found that when parents are involved, treatment efficacy grows exponentially, and greater outcomes are made possible.
Ultimately, the big takeaway is that telehealth is a legitimate form of evaluation and therapy and that it can be used in a hybrid model to enhance in-person therapy. This is useful not only for people who prefer a virtual environment, but for families who may be driving long distances. Beyond Limits Rehabilitation offers in-person Speech Therapy in conjunction with telehealth to target parental education and teach strategies that parents can implement in their child’s natural environment, where they are most comfortable. As Bob Dylan reminds us, “The times, they are a’changin,” and we will change with them! We look forward to seeing you and meeting your family’s speech and language needs: both in-person and virtually!
Glogowska M, Campbell R. Investigating parental views of involvement in pre-school speech and language therapy. Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2000 Jul-Sep;35(3):391-405. doi: 10.1080/136828200410645. PMID: 10963021.
Grogan-Johnson S, Alvares R, Rowan L, Creaghead N. A pilot study comparing the effectiveness of speech language therapy provided by telemedicine with conventional on-site therapy. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2010;16(3):134-139. doi:10.1258/jtt.2009.090608
Manning, B. L., Harpole, A., Harriott, E. M., Postolowicz, K., & Norton, E. S. (2020). Taking Language Samples Home: Feasibility, Reliability, and Validity of Child Language Samples Conducted Remotely With Video Chat Versus In-Person. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(12), 3982-3990. doi:10.1044/2020_jslhr-20-00202