Tablets and apps paid for by Sheffield Hospitals Charity are helping to revolutionise the care of city stroke patients with communication and swallowing difficulties.
Funds raised by supporters of the charity has paid for four iPads which are being used by specialists at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ Stroke service to provide bespoke support for patients who have speech, language and swallowing difficulties after a stroke.
The devices are pre-loaded with a range of therapy apps and have been overwhelmingly welcomed by patients and their families, who rate the apps as having a big impact on their care three months after they were first introduced.
Jenni Crisp and Jo Burke, Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, have developed the service. Jenni said: “The iPads help us to provide therapy for patients with a range of difficulties after strokes, including aphasia (language difficulties), dysarthria (unclear speech), and dysphagia (swallowing difficulties).
“We are currently using between thirty and forty apps, for two separate purposes. Some inform and educate, helping patients and their family members understand stroke and the communication and swallowing difficulties that are associated with it. We are finding that this information is very helpful.
“We then have apps which are therapy specific, including video examples, reading comprehension, word finding exercises, writing and spelling activities, and memory practice.”
Mobile devices and apps are an increasingly important part of the SLT toolkit for delivering effective intervention for patients following a stroke.
Interviews with patients and their families regarding the use of iPads as part of the help provided by SLT have been positive. Patients with aphasia really valued the chance to be able to work on improving their communication on their own, using the iPads. This also helped to build up their confidence.
Carers also reported that they could see the benefits of this approach, feeling that it is an efficient and individualised way for both patients and therapists to work.
Dr Caroline Haw, Stroke SLT team leader said: “The SLTs are a dynamic group and we wanted to modernise the service we provide, to keep up with the expectations and needs of our patients.
“The Speech and Language Therapists would like to thank local supporters of Sheffield Hospitals Charity. Their generosity has meant that funding could be provided to develop the apps for stroke patients. Due to the success of the Apps we are looking at expanding this part of our service to help even more patients.”
To donate to the city’s stroke service, visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/donate