Effective Teletherapy for Pediatric Speech and Occupational Therapies

Effective Teletherapy for Pediatric Speech and Occupational Therapies

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TherapyWorks: Effective Teletherapy for Pediatric Speech and Occupational Therapies

At TherapyWorks, we have a strong track record of positive treatment outcomes. Prior to COVID-19, we were primarily focused on in-person therapy, however, in early March we pivoted the focus of our service delivery to teletherapy. While we knew that research had shown teletherapy to be effective*, we were anxious to measure our own clients’ outcomes to determine whether teletherapy treatment would be as effective as in-person therapy. As we approach fall 2020, teletherapy has proven to be not only effective but also preferable for many of our clients. 

Before diving into the effectiveness of teletherapy, we would like to introduce those of you who are not familiar with TherapyWorks to how our model is different from a traditional pediatric practice. We have built a unique and extensive network of highly specialized, experienced pediatric therapists that would not otherwise be available to treat privately. How did we do this? We created a flexible, per diem job option for our therapists. With the rise of the “gig economy” in the US, we realized that bringing this work option to the pediatric therapy world would give our clients access to highly specialized therapists that would not otherwise have the opportunity to treat private clients. TherapyWorks has built a large network of therapists with a variety of backgrounds, all of whom hold a masters or doctorate degree in their field. Our extensive talent pool enables us to thoughtfully match each child with a therapist that has the right training and experience based on that child’s specific needs. The result is effective, successful therapy. 

Our primary service delivery model prior to COVID, was in-person and our model proved successful. Once COVID hit, the transition for our elementary, middle, and high school aged clients with speech sound, language, fine motor, handwriting, or reading needs was seamless. These sessions typically involve seated, face-to-face interactions. Teletherapy feels very much the same as an in-person session. In order to provide digital materials during sessions, we partnered with Boom Learning, a company that provides digital therapy materials for teletherapy. Through screen sharing, our therapists are easily able to present materials to their clients that they used in person. In addition, we were able to continue assessments through Pearson’s Q-Global digital assessment tools.  

For our toddler and preschool aged clients as well as our occupational therapy clients with sensory processing needs, we had to be more creative in planning for teletherapy. Research indicates that providing services via teletherapy is as effective as in person treatment, especially when it includes a parent collaboration and coaching model (Camden, C, Pratte, G, et al. (2019).  Armed with this research, we have focused on collaboration and caregiver coaching for all of our clients. We’ve found that, by using this approach, parents are empowered and effective allies in their child’s treatment. The strategies learned in teletherapy sessions are implemented in day to day routines. Home practice programs are easily implemented using the tools and household items we’ve gathered for therapy sessions. 

While there are some challenges with teletherapy on occasion (i.e. issues with technology or internet connectivity), we’ve found that the benefits largely outweigh the difficulties. We plan to continue teletherapy even after it is safe to return to in-person sessions. 

If you’re unsure whether teletherapy will work for your child, we would be happy to set up a free phone consultation. If you’re ready to get started, click the link below and we’ll match your child with a therapist based on their unique needs. 

* (1) The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review

DANIELLE WALES, BSPPATH (HONS), LEISA SKINNER, BSPPATH (HONS), and MELANIE HAYMAN, PHD, June 29, 2017. 

(2) Evidence for the Use of Telehealth in Pediatric Occupational Therapy Sheryl Eckberg Zylstra MS OTR/L Pages 326-355 | Received 26 Jan 2013, Accepted 15 Aug 2013, Published online: 18 Dec 2013

COVID-19 Protocol

We hope you and your family are continuing to stay safe and healthy! We have outlined our protocols for in-person sessions during COVID-19. As you know, the health and safety of our clients and therapists remain our highest priority. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work together through these unprecedented times.


Hand Washing:
Upon arrival at your home, your therapist will wash their hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer. We ask that you and your child also wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon your therapist’s arrival.
 
Facemasks:
We are asking our therapists to wear masks upon entering your home and throughout your child’s session. That said, we understand that some children have adverse reactions to seeing adults in masks and will leave it up to you and your therapist to decide your comfort level while still taking safety precautions.
 
We ask that parents and caregivers also follow the guidelines and wear masks when sitting in on sessions. We will not enforce that policy, but we do kindly ask for compliance.
 
As for your child, we realize that masks may not be appropriate for every child so we will not enforce the rule that children over the age of 2 should wear a mask.  However, if your therapist insists that your child wear a mask, then that will be a requirement directly between the two of you. We respect our therapists’ individual comfort levels with safety precautions and ask that you respect them as well.

 

Protocol Acknowledgment and Health Certification:

Before your child’s first in-person session, we are asking clients to submit an acknowledgment of these protocols and a health certification, which you can find here. Thank you again for your cooperation and for helping all of us stay healthy!