Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurological condition in Australia, and communication difficulties are reported by 90% of people with the condition. Unfortunately, not all people with PD have access to speech and language therapy services due to the geographical limitations of a largely rural country, the progressive mobility issues posed by PD and the resource restrictions within the speech and language therapy discipline. Telepractice has the potential to overcome many of these barriers, either by delivering services in real time, or by recording and forwarding data to individuals, or a combination. This study reports on a survey of 61 Australian speech and language therapists (SLTs) to identify the current use, interest and barriers to delivering services via telepractice. Results indicated that although the majority of respondents (82.5%) were interested in delivering service to people with PD via telepractice, only a small number (19%) currently did, in general via real time video conferencing. Respondents who did use telepractice with people with PD did not generally use it for initial assessment. Respondents identified telepractice would overcome many issues of access to speech and language therapy for people with PD. They also suggested that guidelines for clinical practice would be a useful tool to overcome some of the barriers, accompanied by further training in telepractice and workplace support. Given that improvements in technology are our future, it is important that health and speech and language therapy research keep up with this and in order to benefit our clients. Telepractice has significant relevance to the UK, where services are under increasing pressures and the ageing population is increasing, and where this medium could enable speech and language therapy services to maintain equity of access for people with PD.

Speech-language pathologists’ perceptions of the use of telepractice in the delivery of services to people with Parkinson’s disease: A national pilot survey.
Swales M, Theodoros D, Hill AJ, Russell T.
2019;Early Online:1–12.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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