RLF “Telehealth” Grant Continues to Enable Therapy

Technology plays a large role in daily life, and in the health setting it has long been an integral part of diagnosis. Through a grant from RLF, technology is now a cornerstone in therapy delivery for veterans with suspected TBI or PTSD at two universities in Ohio.

As we told you about in January and in May, programs in place at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Speech and Hearing Clinic and at University of Akron (UA) School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, are recruiting veteran students for no-cost comprehensive speech/ language/ cognitive evaluations and treatment plans. Both programs are using technology to deliver some services in part virtually, via “telehealth,” enabling the specialist and the student to link together where it might not be possible physically.

At UA, the Audiology and Speech Center continues to offer the Compensatory Cognitive Training (CCT) program to veterans within the community, including students. Four veterans have completed the program and several have said they would recommend it to other veterans, rating the attention and memory strategies provided in the program as “extremely helpful.” This program has been in use at several Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC) for several years, but the UA implementation is the first in a university setting, and is enhanced by a “telehealth connection” between UA and the Cleveland VA Hospital, used as needed.

CCT focuses on enabling veterans to manage their fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, and tension; improve attention, concentration, and memory; and increase planning and problem solving abilities.

Faculty lead Angela Reif, PhD, CCC-SLP and clinical supervisor Janis Lorman, MA CCC S/A, are stepping up recruitment efforts for more veterans who would like to complete the program, speaking with veterans about CCT and the school’s free hearing services for student veterans at both a September UA football tailgating event (pictured below) in collaboration with campus military organizations including Student Veterans of America and American Legion Post 808, and at UA’s Veterans Day program.

Because this program is open to community members as well as students, Reif has addressed American Legion Post 808, sharing information related to the effects of concussion and TBI and how CCT can help. Recruitment efforts for student veterans and veterans within the community will continue, and speech services for veterans who would like to participate in cognitive training continues to be available.

At BGSU, where the program is offered with individually-tailored treatment including compensatory strategies to improve recall skills through multiple senses, technology in the form of notebook computers, whiteboards, and smartphones is used heavily for support and reminders. According to Donna Colcord, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinic Director at the Bowling Green State University Speech and Hearing Clinic, two of the veteran students completed the program after making significant gains in their skills. An additional veteran continues this semester, and the team is gearing up to locate more veteran students to bring in for the spring semester.

Veterans at BGSU or UA, or throughout the Akron community, who are interested in exploring screenings and services, should contact the clinics through the links above.