For Amirtha Yogendran, receiving telepractice therapy from speech-language pathology students in the Aphasia Center has worked out well since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of on-campus sessions.
Yogendran, who is recovering from a stroke, has been working with students online since late March. “It’s been going good. I’m continuing to improve,” she said. “Everything they were teaching me at school is happening online.”
Working from the safety of their homes, SLP students have continued to work with their clients via Zoom on speech and reading issues. According to Rachel Pittmann, who manages the Aphasia Center, about two-thirds of clients have transitioned to the telehealth sessions. She noted that while several were unable to make the switch due to a variety of factors, overall the participation rate has exceeded her expectations.
For students, the virtual sessions have gone exceedingly well, plus there’s the added benefit of picking up a new skill. “It’s been a good experience as a clinician to have done weeks of telepractice, especially during these times,” said Allison Reid, SLP ’20, noting that she has continued working with Yogendran on grammar, verbal expression, and reading comprehension sessions.
Reid’s classmate, Marissa Russell, noted that her clients have thrived during their virtual sessions, which have continued on their twice-per-week schedule. “I was originally concerned that things wouldn’t go as well as on campus, but I’ve seen many of my clients making as much or even more progress than they did during their in-person sessions so that’s been great,” she said. “Certainly, it’s a client-by-client experience.”
The group sessions for the more than 30 Aphasia Center clients have continued their once-a-week schedule, practicing extreme social distancing while waiting for the pandemic’s curve to flatten.
While Yogendran admits she misses being with her fellow clients as well as the one-on-one sessions with students, one thing she doesn’t have to contend with is public transportation. “I’m not late anymore,” she said with a laugh. “I just have to sit down and turn on my computer and get started.”