Speech-language therapy has certainly gone a long way from the time when speech impediments were cured by smoking or placing marble balls in one’s mouth. Technology has certainly made science evolve into what it is now, and it continues to drive innovation within the field which only benefits the therapists and their clients. Here are some examples of how technology is benefiting speech therapy.
Less printed material
A pretty obvious way that technology has shaped the modern world is through minimizing printed materials. Essentially, we are slowly transitioning into a world where the paper isn’t as common as it used to be. While it will take time to transition into a totally paperless world, many aspects of society have slowly accepted the fact that going paperless is not only a lot more convenient but ultimately better for the environment.
In speech therapy, both therapists and clients make use of some form of paper, whether it is in assessment or for filing purposes. Therapists also regularly send out printed materials for clients and their families to use at home to continue the therapy. But through technology, it’s now becoming more common too, instead of printing, to send out information via the cloud, through email, and other modes. And because the use of smartphones has become commonplace, it’s very easy to send emails and links to both patients and colleagues.
Good for mobile therapists
In the traditional sense, speech therapy was done in clinics or therapy centers all over the world. Here, patients and therapists get together and conduct activities to facilitate proper speech function. But this idea of how speech therapy is conducted is slowly evolving thanks in part to technological innovations. More and more SLPs, speech-language therapists, are now offering virtual speech therapy activities. Patients and therapists meet online via video conferencing and go through their normal sessions, albeit using computers.
The benefits of this extend to both therapist and patient. The therapist is not limited to patients within a certain geographical location. They can connect with clients all over the world. At the same time, clients in need of SLP services will have access to speech therapy no matter where they are in the world. So long as they have a good internet connection, they can conduct their therapy with the guidance of professional therapists that is halfway around the world.
Easier collaboration with other SLPs
A very obvious way that technology is benefiting speech therapy is through the almost instantaneous sharing of information between therapists. In the past, the only way that various therapists can share new information about the field is through published work, whether in books or medical journals. But the advent of the internet has made information sharing faster and more efficient. New findings of a particular study in language therapy can reach other therapists in the field within minutes of it being completed.
What this means is the innovation in the science of speech therapy is now at a faster pace. Old questions are quickly being answered and replaced with new ones. All this is only proving to help clients reach their goals faster and for therapists to become better at how they conduct their sessions.
Fewer gaps between sessions
Ideally, therapy should not be limited to the confines of the therapy center. For progress to be sustained, therapy should continue outside and in the real world, and especially at home. Before, this was done through suggested activities the client can do by themselves once the session is done. But more often than not, this is not strictly followed due to many factors one of which is the absence of guidance from a therapist. But with technology, clients continue to get support and encouragement from their therapists even at home. Should there be any exercises to be done at home that they have trouble doing, it’s very easy to contact their therapists and ask for help.
Faster access to resources
Without a doubt, one of the best benefits that technology has afforded the world, certainly SLPs is having information readily available at our fingertips. A quick search on search pages like Google returns pages and pages of resources to answer any and all questions we might have. This is certainly true for speech therapists who are constantly doing research on how best to approach therapy with a particular client.
There’s no need to spend hours in libraries doing research on one patient when you can do the same amount of research in as little time as possible using laptops and tablets.
Jamie Mervin loves to write about personality development, mental and physical disabilities and ways to overcome them effectively. She is currently working with Verboso, which offers virtual speech therapy activities for children to improve their speech skills.