Virtual Speech Therapy Supports Recovery and Survivorship for People with Head and Neck Cancer

Virtual Speech Therapy Supports Recovery and Survivorship for People with Head and Neck Cancer

It’s encouraging to learn that the road to recovering speech and communications skills impacted by head and neck cancer — tongue cancer, esophagus cancer, mouth cancer or brain tumors — can be eased with the introduction of virtual speech therapy.

Recognizing June 4th as National Cancer Survivor Day and June 8th as World Brain Tumor Day, Great Speech takes the opportunity to support cancer survivors and their families with information and education on the role of certified speech therapists to help with recovery.

Flexibility is one of the most appreciated aspects of Great Speech virtual speech therapy. Certified Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) have wide availability, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate busy schedules that may be strained by ongoing appointments with cancer specialists or treatment regimens. This is a significant relief for families and caregivers who are juggling schedules to ensure access to care.

How Certain Cancer Affects Speech

Head and neck cancer can impact voice quality in a variety of ways, such as making your voice more hoarse, more breathy, strained or quiet. This may also occur when individuals tire more easily. Hearing issues resulting from head and neck cancers are broad and can be profound, including the ability to communicate with others which can lead to social isolation, loneliness,  frustration and diminished quality of life, particularly among older people.

Brain cancer and tumors can impact different areas of the brain making communication more difficult. Most people have their speech center in the left side of the brain. A brain tumor in this area can mean a patient having difficulty saying the correct words, even though he or she is fully capable of understanding what is being said.

Survivors may have long-term communication challenges that can be overcome with the help of speech therapy. Many people in recovery may also suffer from “chemo brain,” a side effect from chemotherapy where individuals may have trouble with word retrieval and memory.

Additionally, SLPs help with voice restoration, providing opportunities to strengthen the muscles in the mouth. They also advance cognitive rehabilitation, helping individuals with thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, learning words and using language.

Benefits of Virtual Speech Therapy

Cancer survivors and those who suffer or suffered from brain tumors may have mobility issues. Virtual speech therapy overcomes many of these challenges by eliminating the travel requirements that pose barriers to accessing care at a brick-and-mortar clinic. Individuals in recovery find it easier to receive treatment in the comfort of their own home, which also lessens the burdens on family caregivers.

Online speech therapy offers personalized care with the support of certified SLPs who will develop a specific plan that works best for each person. An innovative feature of the Great Speech approach is access to the Great Speech Portal: ‘synchronous’ 1:1 sessions with an SLP, as well as ‘asynchronous’ sessions for the individual to participate in “homework” sessions between visits with the speech therapist. This unique program creates additional chances to reinforce learning and allows clients to potentially accomplish their goals in a shorter period of time and at lower cost.

Achieving Better Quality of Life

Virtual speech therapy helps address challenges of isolation and loneliness, key Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), that may impact cancer survivorship and quality of life. Speech exercises and improved communication help clients restore self-confidence and gain a sense of normalcy.

As a result of virtual speech therapy, cancer survivors are able to resume conversations and activities with friends and family — which is why we like to say, “We deliver happiness.”

If you or someone you love is experiencing communication challenges resulting from head and/or neck cancer or brain tumors, get started by scheduling an introductory call today.