A scoping review of virtual synchronous intervention studies in preschool rehabilitation

Disabil Rehabil. 2022 Dec 22;1-9. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2022.2157054. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To summarize the available evidence for the delivery of synchronous virtual rehabilitation intervention services for preschoolers and to identify key factors associated with virtual intervention.

Methods: Five databases were searched to identify peer-reviewed articles that assessed virtual interventions for preschoolers delivered by rehabilitation health professionals including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and their associated assistants. Relevant data regarding demographics, technology, mode of service delivery, timing, engagement, and measurement data were extracted, and charted. Data were then summarized quantitatively using frequency counts, and qualitatively using descriptive summaries.

Results: Sixteen studies were identified. Virtual interventions primarily targeted language difficulties or disorders, therefore most services were delivered by a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Most interventions were delivered using Skype or Zoom on a weekly basis. Various technological features (e.g., phonology software, 'e-helpers') were included, and multiple activities (e.g., playdough, bubbles) and strategies were used to support engagement.

Conclusion: This scoping review provides current knowledge about the delivery of virtual rehabilitation interventions for preschoolers to help guide best practices for clinicians. Future research could assess the validity of existing outcome measures in the virtual environment, and outline optimal session length and frequency for virtual preschool interventions.

Keywords: Virtual; intervention; preschool; rehabilitation; review.

Plain language summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for effective, evidence-based virtual interventions.This study summarizes the available literature to support preschool rehabilitation clinicians in making decisions about virtual interventions.Data presented can inform clinical decisions about technology to use, session length and frequency for various disorders, and activities used to engage preschoolers in the virtual environment.