BACKGROUND/AIMS : In resource-limited countries, traditional models for speech therapy delivery are not adequate to reach all patients in need. In those countries, intensive speech therapy might be a solution. Preliminary results of previous research demonstrated that intensive speech therapy can be effective in the short term for patients living in countries with limited access to speech therapy. Questions might arise whether or not intensive treatment results in long-term benefits for these patients. Hence, the present study investigated long-term effectiveness of intensive speech therapy provided to Ugandan patients born with a cleft palate with or without cleft lip (CP ± L) in terms of different speech characteristics.
METHODS : Five Ugandan patients with CP ± L, who received intensive speech therapy in the past, were contacted to participate in this follow-up study. All patients agreed to participate. Perceptual and instrumental speech evaluations were performed identically to the assessments immediately before and after speech therapy, to allow for comparison. Additionally, the Cleft Evaluation Profile, investigating self-perceived satisfaction with cleft-related features was included to compare satisfaction before and after speech therapy.
RESULTS : Long-term improvement in percentage correct consonants was seen in four patients. Furthermore, after speech therapy, decreased presence of resonance disorders was observed in two of the included patients. Before speech therapy, all participants were dissatisfied with speech. Interestingly, after intensive speech therapy, satisfaction with speech was seen in every patient and this satisfaction remained in the long term.
CONCLUSION : In summary, speech improvements after speech therapy varied among the five patients. Nevertheless, present study provided encouraging results to further investigate effectiveness of intensive speech therapy in patients with CP ± L.