The Benefits of Touchscreen Technology in Speech TelePractice
Sophisticated advances in technology have made speech telepractice an increasingly viable solution for many speech-language professionals. Telecommunications are especially helpful when serving the needs of extensive rural areas and patients with special needs. But what really sets a telespeech practice apart from the competition is user-friendly touchscreen technology. The new generation of touchscreen technology opens interactive therapy to people with physical, emotional, and mental challenges that make communication difficult.
What is Speech Telepractice?
Speech professionals often service a large area with widely separated patients, making house calls impractical. At the same time, patients in need of speech and language therapy often have additional issues that can make office visits difficult or impossible. Speech telepractice is a means of testing, sharing information, adjusting digital hearing devices, and administering interactive therapy using audio, video, computer, and video-conferencing technology.
Centralization of services in rural and remote areas can leave populations scattered over large areas with no access to speech-language services easily available to people in urban and suburban settings. The beauty of telecommunications is that one speech therapist can service a large number of patients without travel for either patient or therapist.
Who Benefits from Speech Telepractice?
Simply put, every stakeholder in the therapist-patient relationship, from therapists to insurers to the patient and his family, benefits from speech telepractice. The bill payer – whether insurer, charitable or government organization, or patient – saves transportation money. The cost of the necessary equipment is negligible compared to the expense and inconvenience of traveling to and from appointments. The biggest winners are the patients and their caregivers. Studies have shown that speech-language therapy delivered via telecommunications has comparable effectiveness to face-to-face appointments. Speech telepractice offers the opportunity to attend more sessions at lower cost without ever leaving home.
Overcoming Obstacles to Treatment
Speech-language therapy can be accessible to all patients through telecommunications, including home-bound patients. While operating a computer or laptop with a keyboard and mouse or trackpad is intimidating to some and impossible for others, it takes only basic motor skills to use a touchscreen. Speech telepractice solutions that include touchscreen technologies address usability concerns without representing a steep learning curve. Communications technology offers unprecedented accessibility for an extensible patient base across a wide service area.
Special Needs Patients
Some patients in need of speech-language therapy also suffer additional challenges that make therapy more difficult to administer. For patients with impaired mobility, autism, stroke, or other factors that affect the ability to communicate, delivering therapy can be quite a challenge. Touchscreen technology creates a user friendly bridge that impaired patients can use to break free of physical and mental issues.
For patients with physical impairment, using a computer may be out of the question. Typing requires coordination and fine motor skill some patients do not possess. Patients with issues such as cerebral palsy, quadriplegia with partial movement, muscular dystrophy, or other types of impairment may have sufficient mobility to participate by tapping a touchscreen. Additionally, patients with mobility impairment experience the satisfaction of helping themselves, adding a facet to treatment that can inspire an enthusiastic willingness to participate.
Autism is a brain disorder that begins in childhood and persists through life. The characteristics of autism make it difficult for sufferers to process and communicate with the world. The visual nature of touchscreen technology is both appealing understandable for many autistic children, allowing speech-language pathologist to make connections in new and creative ways. Visual and sensory clues combined with auditory influences like sounds, music and playback of the child’s own voice present an integrated approach to therapy. Many autistic children respond better to the in-home aspect of telespeech technology. Familiar surroundings and real-life situations are comfortable and practical.
Telepractice is an excellent resource for any speech-language pathologist, allowing a single practitioner to reach a wide area and more patients than ever possible before, eliminating the travel and expense of in-person meetings. Touchscreen technology expands the horizons of telespeech to serve a wider range of patients, including people for whom physical or mental disabilities present otherwise insurmountable barriers to treatment.