Speech and Language Therapy Management during COVID-19 Pandemic: “What Should We Do Now?”

Seyhun Topbaş Namık Yücel Birol Hilal Berber Çiftci Beril Polat Berna Kırımtay Ayşegül Yılmaz

All humanity is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and spread all over the world. This virus is mainly transmitted through droplets produced by the infected individuals and the illness manifests with symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue and dyspnea. Due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, strict isolation and hygiene measures must be taken. Healthcare professionals who are fighting against COVID-19 at the frontline face the highest level of virus transmission risk during this pandemic. Speech and language therapists, confronting the pandemic at the frontline along with their fellow healthcare providers as professionals, are forced to stop carrying out certain procedures that produce aerosols to protect both themselves and the patients, and use personal protective equipment when required by the clinical practice undertaken, as well as applying other modifications to service provision procedures. Because COVID-19 has a severe impact on some patients, they are admitted to intensive care units. When that is the case, the SLP’s play a critical role in ensuring the communication between the patients and the healthcare personnel. As an example, the use of alternative and augmentative communication systems can be sustained during intensive care. In addition, many patients in intensive care units develop acute respiratory distress syndrome. These patients need long-term mechanical ventilation. After the patients are extubated, they need to be evaluated for voice and swallowing disorders. In addition to the above-mentioned roles SLPs undertake at hospital settings, when it is not possible to carry out face to face evaluation and therapy, clinical adaptations and teletherapy may be recommended. This review aims to guide speech and language therapists in our country in many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the review will be surely updated, in the light of the new developments.


COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, speech and language therapy, communication and swallowing disorders, service delivery, post-extubation dysphagia, telepractice, alternative and augmentative communication systems


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