Improving Functional Communication Outcomes in Post-Stroke Aphasia via Telespeech: An Alternative Service Delivery Model for Underserved Populations

Presenter(s): Portia Carr, Ph.D., CCC-SLP


According to the National Stroke Association, 800,000 people in the United States suffer from strokes each year (“National Stroke Association: What is Stroke,” 2019). Importantly, 38% of stroke survivors are diagnosed with aphasia but many have limited access to speech therapy upon discharge from hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and skilled nursing facilities (Hakim, et al.,1998). Along with healthcare disparities in underserved populations, SLP shortages in rural areas create the need for innovation that will improve the accessibility of speech therapy services. Transportation issues, long distances to healthcare facilities, and travel expenses are all barriers to receiving consistent speech-language treatment (SLT) among underserved populations (Hakim et al.,1998; Chai et al., 2016). Fortunately, with ongoing technological advancements, telespeech is a promising alternative delivery model to provide SLT to persons with aphasia (PWA). It provides a unique opportunity to target patient’s individualized functional communication goals in their natural environment by implementing evidence-based treatments that correspond with the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia (LPAA). The purpose of this study was to determine if telespeech is an effective and feasible delivery model for the assessment and treatment of aphasia. SLT included Oral Reading for Language in Aphasia (ORLA) and conversational script training (CST). Outcome measures included standardized tools for assessing naming, functional communication, and communication confidence as well as a telespeech satisfaction survey. The results of this study provide researchers, clinicians, and policymakers with empirical evidence to support the efficacy and feasibility of SLP telehealth intervention. Furthermore, it provides clinicians with specific assessment and intervention protocol modifications contributing to the development of best practice standards for SLP telehealth. We will discuss the implications of the study as they relate to the effectiveness of telespeech as an alternative service delivery model.


Portia Carr, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, graduated from Alabama A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has practiced speech-language pathology for 14 years. She is a clinical assistant professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her current research focuses on telepractice with persons with aphasia, the life participation approach to aphasia (LPAA), and cognitive-communication disorders. She is an advocate for increasing access to speech therapy services. Dr. Carr is also the owner of Infinity Therapy, LLC which serves individuals from pediatrics to geriatrics throughout the state of Arkansas.


Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: None

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