Page 60 - FSJ June 2012

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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U N E 2 0 1 2
During the 1980s, doctors and nurses
pioneered the delivery of medical
care to patients who were not in the
same physical location — a practice
called “telehealth.” With leaps in
Internet service and other broadband
technologies during the past three
decades, people in rural communities
can now access sophisticated medical
care online.
From telehealth, telepractice (or
telerehabilitation and telemedicine,
as it’s also called) evolved naturally, as
therapists in various disciplines began
experimenting with the idea of pro-
viding services online and document-
ing their effectiveness. In the world
of special education, speech patholo-
gists have led the way in taking advan-
tage of the potential of telepractice,
making it an important topic of dis-
cussion in the field as a whole.
The Individuals with Disabilities
Act mandates that all children with
disabilities receive a free and appro-
priate education. Public schools in
the United States must therefore pro-
vide special education services to
meet the specific academic needs of
each individual child with a disability.
Many schools in the United States
are located in rural or otherwise
remote locations and cannot find the
right special education service
providers or enough of them.
Telepractice has offered a solution,
providing real-time intervention pro-
grams where none existed before.
Groups such as the American
Occupational Therapy Association,
American Physical Therapy Associa-
tion, and the American Speech and
Hearing Association quickly began to
research telepractice therapy out-
comes. They sought to determine the
legitimacy of telepractice in the par-
ticular areas of occupational therapy,
physical therapy, speech therapy and
aural rehabilitation. These associa-
tions have now established it as an
accepted form of service delivery.
Importantly for Foreign Service
families, the State Department’s
Employee Consultative Services also
accepts telepractice as a means to ful-
fill the special education needs of
In the world of
special education,
speech pathologists have
led the way in taking
advantage of the
potential of telepractice.