UNK teletherapy reaches out to rural Nebraska

UNK graduate student Betsy Lewis works with a child in the RiteCare Clinic program, which uses teletherapy to reach adults and children in rural areas across Nebraska who need speech and language therapy. (Photo courtesy UNK News)
UNK graduate student Betsy Lewis works with a child in the RiteCare Clinic program, which uses teletherapy to reach adults and children in rural areas across Nebraska who need speech and language therapy. (Photo courtesy UNK News)

By SARA GIBONEY
UNK Communications

KEARNEY – Sitting at her computer, a little girl will learn how to say her Ls. Using his computer, a stroke sufferer will work to regain language capabilities.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney RiteCare Clinic is reaching rural children and adults in need of speech and language therapy.

“Our goal with this program is to reach individuals in rural areas who would not otherwise be able to receive therapy, whether that’s because of their location or funding or lack of insurance,” said Laura Moody, speech and language pathology lecturer and RiteCare Clinic supervisor.

The Department of Communication Disorders partners with Scottish Rite of Nebraska to operate the RiteCare Clinic in the College of Education with capabilities of providing teletherapy to individuals across Nebraska.

The program allows UNK graduate students to provide speech and language therapy online under the supervision of Moody. Clients are required to have Internet access and a computer or mobile device with a web camera. The service is free for all telepractice clients.

“The clinician and the client are in two different locations rather than working together in the same room,” Moody said.

Some clients use a home computer, while others visit their local library or use a computer in their residential facility, she added.

“From our experience, teletherapy definitely works. It’s a wonderful education tool. It’s a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with parents and talk with them about their child and give them the support to develop these communication skills in their child.”

Clinicians at RiteCare mostly work with children, but provide therapy to some adults. Moody said stroke sufferers might need therapy to repair language impairments.

Children may need help working on speech sounds, saying certain letters or increasing language skills. Some children may have limited verbal communication or suffer from fluency disorders such as stuttering.

“There really aren’t any limits to the types of clients we can see,” Moody said.

Most clients are seen twice a week for 30 minutes to an hour per session, depending on their needs.

“Some of the kids we see also receive services in the schools, but they’re just looking for extra help working on some of these skills above and beyond what they work on in school,” Moody said.

The RiteCare Clinic opened at UNK in September 2012 and is funded by the Scottish Rite Foundation, a masonic organization that provides funding to 178 RiteCare clinics across the country. In Nebraska there are RiteCare clinics in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings and Kearney.

For more information on teletherapy at the UNK RiteCare Clinic, contact Moody at 308.865.8924.

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Source: Laura Moody, 308.865.8924, moodyln@unk.edu
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, giboneys2@unk.edu

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