Telehealth delivery of Rapid Syllable Transitions (ReST) treatment for childhood apraxia of speech

Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2016 Nov;51(6):654-671. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12238. Epub 2016 May 10.


Background: Rapid Syllable Transitions (ReST) treatment uses pseudo-word targets with varying lexical stress to target simultaneously articulation, prosodic accuracy and coarticulatory transitions in childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). The treatment is efficacious for the acquisition of imitated pseudo-words, and generalization of skill to untreated pseudo-words and real words. Despite the growing popularity of telehealth as a method of service delivery, there is no research into the efficacy of telehealth treatments for CAS. Telehealth service delivery is associated with compromised audio and visual signal transmission that may affect the efficacy of treatment.

Aims: To conduct a phase 1 efficacy study of telehealth delivery of ReST treatment for CAS, and to discuss the efficacy with reference to face-to-face ReST treatment.

Methods & procedures: Using a multiple baseline across participants design, five children aged 5-11 years with CAS received ReST treatment four times a week for 3 weeks via video conferencing with Adobe Connect. The children's ability to imitate new pseudo-words, generalize the skills to untreated pseudo-words and real word items, and maintain the skills following treatment were assessed. Both visual and statistical analyses were utilized.

Outcomes & results: All five children significantly improved with their production of the imitated treated pseudo-word items and significantly generalized to similar untreated pseudo-words and real words. Additionally, two of the children showed significant generalization to imitated phrases with the treatment items. Four of the children maintained their treatment gains up to 4 months post-treatment. Telehealth delivery produced similar acquisition of pseudo-words and generalization to untreated behaviours as face-to-face delivery; however, in the 4 months following treatment, the children showed stable rather than improving speech skills. The intra- and inter-judge reliability was similar in telehealth delivery for face-to-face delivery. Caregivers and clinicians were satisfied with the telehealth treatment.

Conclusions & implications: This phase 1 study provides promising indications of the efficacy of ReST treatment when delivered four times per week via telehealth, and warrants further large-scale investigation.

Keywords: Adobe Connect; dyspraxia; intervention; prosody; telepratice; telespeech; therapy; video conferencing.

MeSH terms

  • Apraxias / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Speech
  • Speech Therapy*
  • Telemedicine*