There should be no barriers to providing high-quality speech pathology services, according to University of Queensland PhD graduate Dr Anne Hill.
Completed through UQ's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Dr Hill's research found speech and language disorders could be validly and reliably assessed over the internet using a telerehabilitation application.
"Having worked clinically with people living with an acquired neurogenic communication disorder, I saw how frustrating it was for both the person with the communication disorder and the clinician if access to these services was restricted due to issues of caseload, distance or mobility issues," she said.
"Telerehabilitation seems particularly well-suited to Australia, with our widely dispersed population and rural and remote communities.
"This form of service delivery may help alleviate some of the access problems experienced by those living in rural and remote areas, as well as the metropolitan population restricted by mobility issues."
While Dr Hill was already won over by the potential benefits of telerehabilitation, she felt an academic investigation finding evidence of its success was important before introduction to the speech-language pathology profession.
Using a UQ-built telerehabilitation device, the study assessed 86 patients with various speech and language disorders, such as dysarthria, aphasia and apraxia of speech.
Each participant was also assessed using the traditional face-to-face method, allowing Dr Hill to gather comparative data and measure the validity and reliability of remote assessment.
"Two speech pathologists conducted simultaneous rating of the face-to-face and telerehabilitation assessment of the participants," she said.
"One of the two speech pathologists was randomly assigned to lead the assessment, either in the telerehabilitation environment or the face-to-face environment, while
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