For many people who have been hospitalised with Covid-19, damage to their throat and vocal cords is a side effect of having ventilation for days or weeks. For these patients, loss of voice is common, and learning to use their vocal cords again is a big part of the recovery process. The core of NHS workers called SLTs – speech and language therapists – are at the front-line of this recovery, and they have never been busier.
Therefore, we were really pleased to see the BBC giving due coverage to SLTs on February 7th, in their article “Covid-19: The speech therapists helping patients find their voices”.
The article says:
“…speech therapists, the often hidden front-line workers who have continued tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help people regain the most basic of human functions.”
Most of the Covid-recovery patients will be in addition to SLTs’ normal workload. Their work can help patients learn basic human functions: swallowing and speaking. This healing process can make people feel more normal again, a big step to recovery. It improves wellbeing and health outcomes.
The problem is wide-scale amongst Covid survivors. The BBC reported:
“Many patients have a long recovery ahead – 60% of those who have been intubated for at least seven to 10 days have problems swallowing. The function of the voice box can be ravaged, vocal cords severely damaged.”
Without the ability to speak, many patients find themselves relying on lipreading at some stage in their Covid journey. SLT’s/carers will attempt to lip-read what they are trying to say, whilst in the ICU, on the ward or back at home. Lipreading is surprisingly difficult, especially when the subject is unwell. This is why we have developed our smartphone-based SRAVI lipreading application. The carer simply points their phone camera towards the patient and SRAVI does the lip-reading.
We encourage anyone who would like to trial SRAVI to get in touch at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to checking out SRAVI, you may also find it useful to access a library of NHS resources at the Your Covid Recovery page.