Communication changes are almost inevitable for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and because of this, routine referral of people newly identified with PD should be the norm rather than delaying until significant speech and voice changes develop . “Communication is central not just to functioning successfully on a day-to-day basis, it is intimately tied up with feelings about ourselves and how others react to us. It is unsurprising, therefore, that changes to communication profoundly affect people with Parkinson’s disease and those with whom they communicate.” (Miller N. Pract Neurol 2017;0:266–274. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2017-001635)
When patients elect not to enroll in speech therapy, reasons given include issues, such as transportation, schedule, distance from providers, and cost. Attending out-patient speech therapy 3-4 times a week represents a time commitment for patients and carepartners especially if the individual with PD is dependent on others for transportation.
Increased access to healthcare, including speech therapy, via telehealth, has been one of the positive consequences of social distancing recommendations associated with the currrent COVID pandemic.
Although the delivery of speech therapy via telehealth/telepractice is not new, and in fact, Online Coaching has been available here at Voice Aerobics for nearly 5 years, expansion of payment for telepractice services by commercial health insurance providers and Centers for Medicare (CMS), has opened the door to access for many people with communication problems associated with Parkinson’s, stroke, and other neurological disease diagnosis.
So, if you are someone who could benefit from speech therapy to address speech, language or voice difficulties, and access to treatment has been an obstacle for you in the past, now is a great time to take advantage of expanded telepractice coverage. You will need a computer or tablet device, at least basic knowledge of using this technology and a quiet and private place in your home or office. Speech-language pathologists do not require a physician’s order to begin treatment, and you can self-refer, however, Medicare and most insurance providers will request a copy of a physician’s prescription once treatment has been inititiated and a plan of care developed. If you are un-insured, most therapist will provide alternate payment options.
Special pricing for Online Coaching has been extended, and may be a great option to investigate if you are only interested in a few sessions to review or improve use of a Voice Aerobics product or have already completed a formal therapy program and just need guidance for maximizing and maintaining communication skills.
Group Speech Classes Online
In March of 2020, the LOUD Crowd®, a weekly speech class I have offered in my community for 3 years moved to an online format. Many of the group members had no prior experience with using their computer or tablet in this way, but, all have quickly become enthusiastic members of our virtual class, and in fact, one member who had moved out of the area, has been able to re-join the group, proving that classes can be as effective in person or online, and participants continue to benefit from peer support and social interaction both important for generalizing and retaining improvements attained in one:one speech therapy.
What Are You Waiting For?
I have been a licensed speech-language pathologist for over 30 years, and I have a private practice located in Punta Gorda, Florida, serving adults with speech, voice, and/or swallowing problems. I also hold a speech-language pathology license in North Carolina and Ohio, and am available to serve individuals living in those locations, or who travel between Florida and their home state. I have a strong clinical interest in serving individuals with Parkinson’s and related disease diagnosis, and in 1999 created Voice Aerobics® , a whole body voice exercise program with the intent of helping individuals with PD benefit from guided practice before, during, or after speech therapy.
My MissionTo enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice
Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice