It’s 4 pm on a Tuesday when certified speech-language pathologist Fabi Hirsch Kruse, Ph.D., CCC-SLP takes her first break of the day. It’s not much of a break, though, because she’s doing a telephone interview as she sips her tea.
She’s in her private clinic, the Saguaro Center for Speech and Language, home to the Aphasia Center of Tucson. It offers the only comprehensive aphasia program of its kind in Arizona.
Hirsch’s days are jam-packed. She offers semester-long group programs that meet for two half-days every week, and she provides individual aphasia therapy at other times. She also gives lectures and participates in advocacy projects, care-partner support groups, computer coaching, and community outings with clients.
In this regard, Hirsch is no different from many other speech-language pathologists. Hectic routines are common.
Less Stress, More Productivity
According to one study, four of the top five sources of stress for speech-language pathologists pertain to overwork and inadequate time. The other stressor has to do with salary. Though the study focused on school-based speech-language pathologists, those working in clinical and private practice deal with similar types of stress.
A 20-year veteran of speech-language therapy, Hirsch has long been familiar with these concerns. So when she opened her clinic two years ago, she looked for ways technology might help her become more efficient. She wanted to maximize the time she could spend working with patients on communication recovery methods and minimize the time spent preparing materials and doing paperwork.
She found a series of apps that have significantly enhanced her ability to provide high-quality services. They allow her to deliver targeted, customized, evidence-based therapy to her clients, while freeing her from the tedious tasks of manually recording and analyzing data.
“By using apps for therapy, I spend about one-tenth of the time on prep work that I used to,” she says, recalling the many hours she used to spend cutting photos from magazines and pasting them into treatment materials.
The apps’ automated data collection and reporting capabilities mean Hirsch doesn’t have to count repetitions and track accuracy. This leaves her less distracted and better able to engage with her clients.
“The data in the notes are quite detailed,” she says. “They also serve the requirements for insurance reporting.”
Among Hirsch Kruse’s favorites are three apps from Tactus Therapy Solutions:
Hirsch favors Language TherAppy’s four-in-one-app versatility. “It’s really the one I use the most,” she explains. “I can use it for a 10- to-20-item probe, then work intensively with the individual, then send them on their way with homework that’s personalized for their needs.”
Hirsch likes the fact that the apps are customizable. Her clients and their care partners can personalize the therapy experience by uploading photos of appliances and objects (such as coffee makers and garbage cans) from their own homes as well as pets, family members, friends, and familiar places.
Hirsch also appreciates the evidence-based design behind Naming TherAppy, one of Language TherAppy’s four tools. She frequently uses the Naming TherAppy exercises as stimuli for Semantic Feature Analysis.
“Coming up with information about the items helps clients when they try to retrieve the names later,” she explains. “I also like this approach for verb naming, and use the app for Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (V-NeST), to ultimately improve producing sentences. I can easily pick verbs that are difficult during a naming probe and then use those verbs as the targets for V-NeST.”
When clients are ready to work with sentences, they progress naturally from Naming TherAppy to Conversation TherAppy.
“The conversation app lets me see how people do with longer constructions,” Hirsch explains. “Words come up with the conversation app that we might not otherwise explore, and I can assess other areas, such as syntax.”
Hirsch uses the apps in group sessions, for individual therapy, and as part of her homework protocols.
“I strongly believe that people need more than one hour of speech therapy per week,” she says. “My clients vary from five minutes of homework to an hour or more each day, depending on their willingness and motivation.”
The data collected by the app tells Hirsch how often, how long, and how well each homework session has gone. This information, which the client can easily email from within the app, helps Hirsch Kruse plan the next set of in-office exercises.
“The Tactus apps have a lot of strengths,” she says. “The pictures are great, the categories cover a wide range of interests, and the variety of tasks allow me to use the apps for a wide range of ability levels. They help me to provide the highest possible quality of services to my patients.”
Do you use Tactus Therapy apps at work? If so, we’d love to hear from you. We are looking for SLPs to profile in future blogs and case studies. Contact us at email@example.com if you’d like to share your story, too.
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