Cork start-up Teleatherapy’s platform improves access to speech therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease, giving them an additional two years of voice.
Teleatherapy, a medtech star-tup based in University College Cork (UCC) offering speech therapy technology to clinics and individuals with Parkinson’s disease has raised pre-seed funding totalling €700,000 from private investors and Enterprise Ireland.
Teleatherapy has created the first full-circle platform connecting speech therapy clinics with their clients with Parkinson’s disease.
“Voice is a huge part of our identity. We are empowering individuals with the skills needed to maintain their voice and slow down progression”
The breakthrough platform enables speech and language therapists to prescribe exercises for clients which they can then complete at home with an app on their phone or tablet. The results from these exercises are fed back to the therapist in real time to monitor progress and provide intervention if needed.
It saves time for speech therapists who are working with limited resources and can help reduce waitlists.
Your voice, your power
Teleatherapy was founded in November 2020 by Clare Meskill, a speech and language therapist and recognised the need for a solution like Teleatherapy while working with individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Dave Calnan joined as Co-Founder and CTO in late 2022 to lead the technical development. The team is now four-strong with plans to expand.
Parkinson’s disease is the fastest-growing neurodegenerative disease worldwide with one in every 100 people over the age of 60 diagnosed with the incurable condition. Up to 90% of those will experience difficulty with their voice and with a ‘use it or lose it’ approach, it’s important to receive intervention as early as possible. Access to early intervention can be difficult with staff shortages and limited funding in strained healthcare systems post-Covid.
Teleatherapy first began offering the app to individuals with Parkinson’s disease in July 2021. This pilot group has continually grown since, supported by branches of the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland.
In January 2023, Teleatherapy began a pilot with the HSE in partnership with Health Innovation Hub Ireland. The company plans to hire speech and language therapists to increase the number of clients who can avail of the service both directly and via clinics in Ireland and beyond. Following recent successful registration with the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Teleatherapy plans to expand to NHS clinics in the UK throughout 2023.
Up to an additional two years of voice for an individual with Parkinson’s disease can be saved with consistent speech and language therapy. This results in an improved quality of life, maintaining an individual’s ability to communicate and socialise with those around them is essential for psychological well being, as between 40% and 60% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease suffer from anxiety or depression.
“Parkinson’s disease can lead to the deterioration of voice and sometimes loss of speech. Losing the ability to communicate can be incredibly isolating and impact people’s ability to participate in everyday life. Voice is a huge part of our identity.
“We are empowering individuals with the skills needed to maintain their voice and slow down progression. Our technology enables speech and language therapists to support their clients with Parkinson’s disease remotely and improve outcomes between therapy sessions. We are delighted with the progress seen to date and this funding will help us build upon this momentum and bring our technology to help as many people as possible.”