From In-Person to Telehealth: The Shift towards Effective TBI Speech Therapy

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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a devastating condition that affects millions of people globally.

TBIs occur when a person experiences a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. One of the common consequences of TBI is speech and language disorders. These disorders can range from mild to severe and can affect the individual’s ability to communicate effectively.

For this reason, speech therapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation process for TBI survivors.

However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many traditional in-person therapy sessions have had to be cancelled or postponed. In this article, we will explore the shift towards telehealth-based speech therapy for TBI survivors and the impact this has had on the effectiveness of therapy.

Telehealth-based speech therapy refers to the use of technology to provide speech therapy services to individuals remotely.

This type of therapy uses telecommunication tools such as videoconferencing, instant messaging, and mobile applications to connect patients with therapists. The goal of telehealth-based speech therapy is to provide patients with access to quality care, regardless of where they are located.

This shift towards telehealth has been driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many traditional in-person therapy sessions being cancelled or postponed. The use of telehealth in speech therapy for TBI survivors is relatively new, and there is still much to be learned about its effectiveness.

However, there is evidence to suggest that telehealth-based speech therapy can be just as an effective tool for the treatment of TBI speech and language disorders as in-person therapy.

Benefits of Telehealth

One of the benefits of telehealth-based speech therapy for TBI survivors is the convenience it provides. TBI survivors often experience physical and cognitive limitations that make it difficult for them to attend in-person therapy sessions. Telehealth-based speech therapy eliminates the need for patients to travel to a therapist’s office, which can be time-consuming and physically demanding. Instead, patients can receive therapy from the comfort of their own homes. This can be particularly beneficial for patients who are recovering from TBI and are still in the early stages of rehabilitation.

Another benefit of telehealth-based speech therapy for TBI survivors is that it provides them with more flexible therapy options. Traditional in-person therapy sessions are usually scheduled at set times and patients are required to attend at these times. With telehealth-based speech therapy, patients have the option of scheduling therapy sessions at times that are convenient for them. This flexibility can be especially important for TBI survivors who are trying to balance therapy sessions with other activities, such as work or family commitments.

Telehealth-based speech therapy also provides TBI survivors with access to therapists who may not be available in their local area. This can be particularly important for patients who live in rural or remote areas where access to specialist therapists is limited. With telehealth-based speech therapy, patients have the option of connecting with therapists from different parts of the world, providing them with access to a broader range of expertise and experience.

Challenges of Telehealth

Despite the benefits of telehealth-based speech therapy for TBI survivors, there are also some challenges that need to be considered. One of the biggest challenges is the quality of the technology being used. In order for telehealth-based speech therapy to be effective, the technology must be reliable, secure, and easy to use. This can be challenging, especially for patients who are not tech-savvy. For example, patients may have difficulty using the videoconferencing software or navigating the mobile application. This can result in frustration and reduce the effectiveness of therapy.

Another challenge of telehealth-based speech therapy is the lack of personal interaction and nonverbal cues that can occur during in-person therapy. TBI survivors often struggle with communication and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and gestures, can be crucial in helping them understand and communicate effectively. In telehealth-based speech therapy, the therapist may not be able to see the patient’s nonverbal cues, which can limit the effectiveness of therapy.  This makes using synchronous video conferencing extremely important.

Despite these challenges, telehealth-based speech therapy has the potential to be a valuable tool for TBI survivors. To ensure its effectiveness, it is important to choose a telehealth platform that is reliable, secure, and easy to use. It is also important to choose a therapist who is experienced in telehealth-based speech therapy and who understands the unique challenges that TBI survivors face.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the shift towards telehealth-based speech therapy for TBI survivors has been driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth-based speech therapy offers TBI survivors the convenience of receiving therapy from the comfort of their own homes, flexible therapy options, and access to therapists who may not be available in their local area.

While there are challenges that need to be considered, telehealth-based speech therapy has the potential to be a valuable tool for TBI survivors.

To ensure its effectiveness, it is important to choose a telehealth platform that is reliable, secure, and easy to use, and a therapist who is experienced in telehealth-based speech therapy.

Seth Koster M.S. CCC-SLP

Seth Koster M.S. CCC-SLP

Seth Koster graduated from Eastern Michigan University with his bachelors degree in Speech and Language Impairment in 2007 and graduated from Howard University with his masters degree in Communication Science and Disorders in 2010. He is licensed in multiple states and holds the national Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA.org) and has been a guest speaker and taught courses at universities in the USA, Japan and Vietnam.
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