As we recognize September as Healthy Aging Awareness Month, it is essential to shed light on the growing incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in our aging population and how virtual speech therapy can help.
Referred to as “geriatric TBI,” this type of injury occurs in older adulthood and can significantly impact speech and communication abilities. With older adults having the highest incidence of TBI of any age group, addressing speech challenges resulting from geriatric TBI becomes paramount to ensure their well-being and quality of life.
Understanding Geriatric TBI & Communication Challenges
Geriatric TBIs can result from falls, motor vehicle accidents, or other incidents causing head injuries. Frailty and preexisting health conditions can compound the risks and severity of TBIs in older adults.
This can lead to various speech and communication difficulties resulting from the impact on cognitive and motor functions. speech language pathologists (SLPs) play a crucial role in addressing these challenges by focusing on improving cognition, speech and memory. They work on enhancing social language functions and cognitive communication skills to help patients regain their ability to communicate effectively.
SLPs employ targeted therapies to address specific speech difficulties caused by geriatric TBI. For dysarthria, a condition where the nerves controlling speech muscles are affected, they provide exercises to enhance speech intelligibility. For apraxia, which causes difficulties with sounds and syllables, slowing speech rates and improving word pronunciation, they also recommend special exercises.
The Role of Virtual Speech Therapy
Great Speech’s online speech therapy program is especially beneficial for seniors, improving access to care, reducing caregiver burden and enhancing overall quality of life for those who prefer the familiar surroundings of home instead of traveling to brick-and-mortar clinic setting.
Virtual speech therapy offers a significant opportunity for geriatric physicians to refer their patients, enabling seniors to accelerate access to essential care by eliminating transportation and mobility concerns. Great Speech’s approach to online speech therapy also offers increased scheduling flexibility – including evenings and weekends.
Additionally, Great Speech is proud to offer the following:
Synchronous and Asynchronous Capabilities
A hybrid care plan model of synchronous live sessions with a therapist and asynchronous access to our unique practice portal: members can complete “homework” assignments that help extend the value of their live sessions and further accelerate their progress.
Matching Therapists with Specific Patients or Conditions, such as Geriatric TBI
By aggregating all information about the therapists’ background, training and experience, this approach ensures patients are paired with the most qualified speech therapists in our national network of 200+ licensed therapists. This creates the best-indicated therapy/patient care for a patient’s specific condition, results in more focused therapy and possibly even faster results in a shorter time frame.
Health Plan Coverage and Medicare Certification
Great Speech offers many in-network options for payment and coverage. Thanks to the inclusion of Great Speech’s virtual speech therapy services in many health plans, it’s easier for patients to follow a plan of care for their speech and language concerns. Great Speech has private pay options as well.
Seniors get the most value from a program that offers personalized sessions that can be accessed from the comfort of their home, with therapist availability on evenings and weekends to accommodate the busy schedules of patients and their family caregivers. This also helps to resolve key Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) by improving access to care that: reduces loneliness and social isolation; resolves transportation issues and eliminates long wait times and time spent in a clinician waiting room at a brick-and-mortar facility.
Geriatric TBI presents significant challenges for speech and communication, but with the help of virtual speech therapy programs, seniors can improve their cognitive and linguistic abilities. As we raise awareness about the importance of speech therapy in geriatric TBI, we take a crucial step towards enhancing the quality of life and independence of our aging population.
If you or someone you know is seeking care and support to communicate effectively after traumatic brain injury: Schedule an introductory call today.