The internet is great for crushing candy or shouting about politics, but it fortunately also has the ability to help people in very powerful ways. For evidence, look no further than the rapid growth of Springfield-based DotCom Therapy. Co-owned and operated by registered speech therapists Rachel Robinson and Emily Perdom, in just a year and a half DotCom Therapy now employs 25-plus therapists across the country, serving students and individuals via the internet with various speech-related problems, including articulation disorders, fluency (stuttering) problems, overcoming Parkinson’s Disease and brain trauma or stroke recovery.
Robinson and Purdom met in 2012 as research partners while completing their Masters degrees at Missouri State University. In March of 2015, while Purdom was working online with a patient from China, the two decided to offer their services online to clients all around the world. Robinson estimates some 20 million people in the United States alone are in need of some sort of speech therapy, with fewer than 127,000 licensed therapists to help them.
Robinson says the quality of online speech therapy is in many ways superior to in-person sessions because the patient is in a comfortable environment, often with someone who will help them throughout the week.
“A lot of people are unable to access care,” Robinson says. “Because many services are consolidated in urban areas and graduate programs are incredibly competitive, there just aren’t enough [practicing speech therapists] to go around.”
Today, DotCom Therapy works with schools in rural Missouri as well as Alaska, with individual clients in China, Mexico, Thailand and other countries. Bilingual therapists help U.S. expats or those who moved from other countries overcome language barriers and accents. The owners’ goal was to be in 50 schools by the end of summer 2016, and in August the duo spoke at the 30th World Congress of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics in Dublin, Ireland.
“We see ourselves becoming a global brand, working with rural clinics and hospitals having a hard time finding therapists to help people receive therapy at home,” Robinson says.
Purdom and Robinson, who have respective backgrounds in pediatric and adult speech therapy, have considered expanding into the areas of online occupational and behavioral therapy as well.
Robinson says the quality of online speech therapy is in many ways superior to in-person sessions because the patient is in a comfortable environment, often with someone who will help them throughout the week. DotCom Therapy also provides technical assistance to patients to help bridge any technological divide that may exist.
Sessions are charged at an hourly rate for individuals, who are free to apply for DotCom Therapy services. Some medical-related services require a doctor’s approval for treatment (they also work with some insurance providers), while other services, like overcoming a heavy accent, do not. Those interested in inquiring about DotCom Therapy’s services should visit dotcomtherapy.com and click “Connect” to see what services are available and how you can participate.