How Technology is Lending a New Voice to Speech-Language Pathology

I’m excited to have a guest post regarding the use of technology in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. The guest is Philip J Reed and he wrote the following post on behalf of Westwood College.

When it comes to Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), new and exciting advances in technology are being embraced with open arms. Whether by audiologists, pathologists or even interns working towards their medical assistant degree, there are more tools available to address language and communication issues than ever before.  This is important (and wonderful), because when you’re dealing with communication, you are dealing with one of the most fundamentally important parts of societal life.

Technology is giving us new ways to help overcome these deficiencies or inabilities to communicate, so here are just five ways that it is evolving to lend a new voice to speech language pathology.

  1. Applications and games as a way of learning
    With near limitless games available for all types of computers and within all levels of learning, fun applications and computer games can be a gentle and un-intimidating method of learning.  Featuring appealing characters and soothing sound effects, young patients in particular respond very well to these tools, and may even wish to keep using them after their sessions have ended.  (This is another great thing about such applications; their use is not limited to the session!)  Successfully engaging a patient in his or her own treatment is sometimes the most difficult hurdle to overcome.  Games and similarly entertaining apps can bridge that gap easily.
  2. Recording and playback
    Something as simple as a handheld voice recorder (or an app with record and playback functionality) can be invaluable to someone struggling with speech issues. The ability to play back words, sounds, and pronunciations when they are outside of the classroom setting greatly increases their ability to study in private, and in session it can be a good way to let the patient hear his or her own voice repeated back to them, so that they can better understand the nature of their own difficulties…and how to overcome them.  Listening to voices in this way (whether one’s own or somebody else’s) has been a valuable learning tool for generations; it’s how many people memorize their lines for a play, learn a foreign language, or even build their confidence levels.  The potential for something this simple is astronomical, so take advantage of it!
  3. Connection
    When trying to overcome any type of disability whether it’s physical, emotional or your ability to communicate, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Understanding that you are not alone in your difficulties can be just the comfort or motivation that a person needs, and technology will always allow a portal through which you can find others who have similar difficulties.  The internet provides an excellent forum for those who feel alone:  there is always somebody out there who will understand, at least on some level, what you are going through.  There will always be somebody you can talk to, and there will always be a source of comfort available, if you look for it, at any time of the day or night.  Find somebody with whom you feel comfortable, and keep in touch.
  4. A classroom anywhere
    A remote location no longer means that convenient therapy or rehabilitation is beyond your grasp. The ability to have mobile rehab and lessons can truly be life changing for some people, so research your options.  The “virtual classroom” may not be for everybody, but it might be worth a try, particularly if travel difficulties are a regular obstacle for you.
  5. A better understanding
    Technology, research, and a more fluid exchange of information means that new treatments and a better understanding about language and language disabilities are constantly being developed. Message boards, websites and information-exchange groups are always becoming more popular, and that means of exchange can be an exceedingly valuable one.  A better understanding means a better end result, especially with something like speech-language pathology.  By allowing ourselves a greater understanding of the issues our children and patients face we are less likely to confuse SLP issues with, say, audiology problems or behavioral health issues.

Our tech savvy society and tech rich medical arena are progressing at ever-increasing  speeds when it comes to teaching, learning, and helping. This is evident in more than just speech language pathology; students from kindergarten all the way to a medical assistant degree or even masters or doctorate program are embracing technology as a means to push forward. When we know more and can share more, treatments become easier, less expensive, and more accessible.  And as that happens, we all win.

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