I am a Speech & Language Therapist who works with adults with communication problems that are caused by stroke or head injury or a degenerative condition like Parkinson’s disease. My work is about helping people to both recover old skills and to discover new ways of communicating their thoughts and wishes. This may be through speech, writing, drawing and gesture. Therapy also involves improving someone’s ability to understand what is said to them, or what they read. Communication is an essential part of being human, and the key way we communicate is in conversation, normally face-to-face.
When the lockdown happened I needed to be able to offer online rather than face-to-face sessions to my clients. Online treatment sessions, or ‘telehealth’/‘teletherapy’ is not a new way of delivering Speech & Language Therapy. There is good evidence for its efficacy from research done on its use in Australia in particular, where the great distances between clients and therapists has made telehealth a good option even before the pandemic. However, online working presented a whole new world of work to me. Part of that new world meant adapting my approach to presenting assessment materials.
I used the HUE HD Pro camera when assessing a client with aphasia. Aphasia (sometimes called dysphasia) is a communication disability that occurs when the language centres of the brain are damaged. It affects the ability to find the words needed, in speech and/or writing. It can also affect the ability to understand the written and spoken word. It does not affect intelligence. Aphasia is often a hidden disability; and people with aphasia may experience social exclusion and extreme frustration.
Assessment of someone with aphasia’s remaining language skills and current deficits is essential in order to plan targeted therapy to improve communication. I use standardised assessments that include a variety of pictures for spoken and written naming, lists of written words for reading aloud, photographs of real objects for e.g. looking at someone’s ability to use gestures.
I used the HUE camera to carry out aphasia assessments. It was easy to install, and easy to use during a Zoom appointment to show the client the appropriate picture or word. It required learning how to position the camera with the relevant page in the assessment book to show the picture or word clearly, but this was also simple to get the hang of. I was pleased with how smoothly the assessment process went with the camera and in the midst of all the pressures of the pandemic, the lockdown and changes in working practice, it provided answers, for which I am very grateful.
Written by Tessa Ackerman, Independent Speech & Language Therapist, working with adults in Yorkshire, UK through ACT for Yorkshire Ltd.