Adapting Speech, Occupational, Mental Health Therapy to Telehealth: James Beck, PhD


The chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation discussed the state of mental health services for people with Parkinson disease during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Speech therapy and occupational therapy often requires 1-on-1 engagements, as well as physical therapy to really be effective sometimes. That said, I know the field has incredibly talented providers and they're thinking about ways in which to adapt what used to be a traditional face-to-face approach to the telemedicine approach.”

A survey conducted by the Parkinson’s Foundation in conjunction with the Movement Disorders Division of the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center revealed disparities in telehealth use between income and education levels in people with Parkinson disease (PD).

The survey also revealed that more telehealth appointments were for doctor’s appointments (n = 777; 91.2%) rather than physical (n = 142; 16.7%), occupational, speech, or mental health therapies (n = 162; 19%). While around half (n = 617; 46%) of all respondents reported that they would prefer to continue using telehealth always or sometimes after the end of the pandemic, respondents that used telehealth for mental health services were less likely to prefer using it after the pandemic (OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.13–0.76), leading investigators to suggest that these services should be improved.

NeurologyLive reached out to James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer, Parkinson’s Foundation, and adjunct associate professor, department of neuroscience and physiology, New York University School of Medicine, to learn more about how different medical fields are adjusting to telehealth. He also noted that levels of insurance coverage may differ from in-person to telehealth visits, which may impact the use of telehealth for certain fields.


Feeney MP, Xu Y, Surface M, et al. The impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on people with Parkinson’s disease: a survey study. NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2021;7(1):10. doi: 10.1038/s41531-020-00153-8

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