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Dysphagia ; 2022 Dec 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2158030


The goal of this study was to explore telehealth use for dysphagia management in response to COVID-19 to understand variables associated with clinician confidence and perceived effectiveness of this service delivery model and determine clinician-perceived benefits and challenges of managing dysphagia via telehealth. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs, n = 235) completed a web-based survey, providing information on demographics, telehealth use during the pandemic, and perspectives on current and future tele-management of dysphagia. Analyses included descriptive statistics to examine usage patterns; logistic regression to determine which variables were associated with telehealth use, clinician confidence, and perceived-effectiveness; and conventional content analysis to analyze responses to open-ended questions. Results revealed a sharp increase in the tele-management of dysphagia during the pandemic. Years of experience with dysphagia management (p = .031) and pre-pandemic use of telehealth (p < .001) were significantly associated with current use patterns. Working in the outpatient setting was associated with greater clinician confidence (p = .003) and perceived effectiveness (p = .007), and use of guidelines (p = .042) was also associated with greater clinician confidence. Key challenges identified included inadequate technological infrastructure, inadequate patient digital literacy, and reimbursement restrictions. Key benefits were treatment continuity, improving access to care, and time savings. The majority (67%) of respondents reported that they would use telehealth in the future. These findings demonstrate SLPs' abilities and desire to expand their practice patterns to include telehealth for dysphagia management. Therefore, clinician training and more research on best practices for assessment and treatment of dysphagia via telehealth is warranted to refine models of care for dysphagia tele-management.

Am J Speech Lang Pathol ; 30(2): 503-516, 2021 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1545665


Purpose COVID-19 has shifted models of health care delivery, requiring the rapid adoption of telehealth, despite limited evidence and few resources to guide speech-language pathologists. Management of dysarthria presents specific challenges in the telehealth modality. Evaluations of dysarthria typically rely heavily on perceptual judgments, which are difficult to obtain via telehealth given a variety of technological factors such as inconsistencies in mouth-to-microphone distance, changes to acoustic properties based on device settings, and possible interruptions in connection that may cause video freezing. These factors limit the validity, reliability, and clinicians' certainty of perceptual speech ratings via telehealth. Thus, objective measures to supplement the assessment of dysarthria are essential. Method This tutorial outlines how to obtain objective measures in real time and from recordings of motor speech evaluations to support traditional perceptual ratings in telehealth evaluations of dysarthria. Objective measures include pause patterns, utterance length, speech rate, diadochokinetic rates, and overall speech severity. We demonstrate, through clinical case vignettes, how these measures were completed following three clinical telehealth evaluations of dysarthria conducted via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. This tutorial describes how each of these objective measures were utilized, in combination with subjective perceptual analysis, to determine deviant speech characteristics and their etiology, develop a patient-specific treatment plan, and track change over time. Conclusion Utilizing objective measures as an adjunct to perceptual ratings for telehealth dysarthria evaluations is feasible under real-world pandemic conditions and can be used to enhance the quality and utility of these evaluations.

Dysarthria/therapy , Speech-Language Pathology/methods , Telemedicine/methods , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Speech Intelligibility , Telemedicine/standards