Online speech therapy gives brain injury sufferers a voice

14 Sep 2018
online speech therapy
Dr Whelan said another benefit was that participants were able to more easily include their families

An online therapy program which delivers targeted treatment to people suffering from a non-progressive speech disorder (dysarthria) after brain injury is the focus of a new University of Queensland (UQ) study.

Be Clear Online is being trialled by researchers from UQ’s RECOVER Injury Research Centre (RECOVER) with volunteers who have developed dysarthria as a result of traumatic brain injury or stroke.

The program provides one hour of therapy per day, four days per week over a four-week period via video conference with a qualified speech pathologist.

Dr Brooke-Mai Whelan from RECOVER explained that individuals with speech disorders can be vulnerable to isolation and depression as a result of their reduced ability to communicate.

“Providing online speech treatment within the home will remove access barriers that many people face post-brain injury such as distance from services, difficulty walking, and specialised transport requirements,” Dr Whelan said.

“Once discharged from hospital, therapy options are limited and intensive treatment models are difficult to maintain but technology can change the way we rehabilitate people who have suffered brain injury, even for those with a long-standing injury.”

Be Clear Online is a UQ-developed intensive speech treatment program which has demonstrated improved communication for people following acquired brain injury in a face-to-face therapy trial.

“This is the first time that the program has been implemented via tele-communications technology and early results are showing that it can be just as effective as when it is delivered in a clinic environment.”

Dr Whelan said another benefit of home-based therapy is that participants are able to more easily include their families and support people, as well as integrate their treatment into their community engagement activities.

“A current study participant is completing two of his weekly sessions at his local Men’s Shed where he is able to include his mates and lean on them for their support and motivation.”

The research team is looking for male and female volunteers who are not currently in active speech therapy (or can cease therapy for the duration of this project), are at least six months post-injury, and have access to a computer and internet connectivity at home.

To register your interest in participating, or to find out more information, please contact Dr Brooke-Mai Whelan on 07 3346 4785 or

RECOVER Injury Research Centre is a joint initiative of the Queensland Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) and The University of Queensland.

Media: Dr Brooke-Mai Whelan, 07 3346 4785,, Jo Hickman, UQ Communications, 07 3346 3037,