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Katherine Sullivan: The Role of the Speech-Language Therapist

The Role of the Speech-Language Therapist

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One way things have changed over the last 10 years, along with our conflicts in the brain injury patient population we're working with is that technology has also advanced. So, before when we were working with a patient who was trying to remember their appointments, we'd work on a memory book or an appointment book. Now, we'll take their Smartphone and try to incorporate that into their daily living. So, as much as we use technology, we make sure it is not replacing the therapists. So, let me give you an example. Technology and computers are very good at drill repetitive practice. So, once again, you might not need that physical therapist or someone at the gym when you're just doing your reps back and forth. But, when you go to apply the new strength you have, whether it be in your leg or in the memory part of your brain, you need to apply that to real-life functional outcomes, and that's really where the therapists can do their best work. So, we can use technology to help us maximize the time the patient is with us and give as many reps as possible, but then to be able to help that patient apply that to real-life is really where we combine our work in the Brain Fitness Center and the computer with the speech pathology department, the occupational therapy department, and physical therapy as well.

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Technology, like the use of smartphones as a memory tool, has helped advance strategies for people with TBI. But once patients have learned how to use these tools, the SLP helps them apply that knowledge for practical use in daily life.


Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Brian King, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.

Katherine Sullivan, MS CCC-SLP, CBIS Katherine Sullivan, MS CCC-SLP, CBIS, Kate Sullivan, MS is a speech-language pathologist and director of the Brain Fitness Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda. In 2009, she helped launch the Brain Fitness Center, devised as an adjunct to traditional cognitive therapies offered by Speech and Occupational Therapy.

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