Pullman's hospital will soon bring telespeech therapy to rural school districts

PULLMAN, WA - Pullman Regional Hospital is working with a software company out of Spokane to bring speech therapy to rural school districts that wouldn't have access to it otherwise.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains how the latest technology is helping speech therapists be more efficient than ever.

Pullman Regional Hospital recently received its first federal grant. It's for more than $280,000 and the money will pay for telespeech therapy in local schools.

"Pullman's at the forefront of fixing a global problem," said Gemiini Systems Founder Brian Kasbar. "The need for speech therapy dwarfs the availability of speech therapy."

Gemiini Systems Founder Brian Kasbar said his software can help speech therapists help students in rural school districts by simply going online.

"They can work on it with the child live, and then give the child therapy homework for the child can work at home and really maximize what they get out of every speech therapy hour," said Kasbar.

Speech Language Pathologist Ambyr Henderson said the online speech therapy model will allow her to reach out to students in rural districts without having to spend hours in the car.

"A variety can benefit," said Henderson. "The sky's the limit with this kind of model. Really it's just being dynamic in the services you're providing and making it fun for the students."

While some may question the effectiveness of online learning, Kasbar said for some children, the simplicity of learning from a screen makes the therapy easier to comprehend.

"It's a smaller bit of information, it's now two dimensional instead of three and it becomes easier to process," said Kasbar. "So for people with pre-frontal cortex damage, it's often a better delivery system for their brains to process."

Pullman School District Superintendent Paul Sturm said this telespeech therapy will allow their speech therapists to collaborate with other professionals like never before and maximise their limited resources.

"The telespeech model offers great promise for Pullman schools in terms of enhancing our services," said Sturm.

Right now this speech therapy programming is only in the Pullman school district, but they'll be in smaller, rural school districts soon, like Garfield, Palouse, Tekoa and even Pomeroy.

The grant will cover the Telespeech Therapy Services for three years. Pullman Regional Hospital plans on reaching out to a total of seven local school districts.