Speech Therapy: An Important Element of Recovery
Susie Almon | posted May 16, 2011 |
Many of us take for granted the ability to have a simple conversation. But for people with speech impediments, communication is often not an easy task. Speech-language pathology services are important for helping people overcome or reduce these difficulties.
As a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I’ve always thought that speech-language pathology is one of the most misunderstood types of therapy. Many people think SLPs focus only on childhood language issues or stuttering, but SLP services are a part of recovery programs for many illnesses. SLPs often collaborate with physical therapists, occupational therapists and nurses to develop a holistic recovery plan for the patient.
In general, speech/language portions of SLP services focus on the ability to understand and use words and expressive language. It deals with the mechanics such as articulation, pitch, fluency and volume. It also deals with the formulation and use of language and cognition (thinking skills) that are such an important part of communication. For many adults, speech difficulties are caused by medical issues such as stroke, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, mental disability, brain injury, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
Throughout my career as an SLP, I’ve also helped adult patients with swallowing through dysphagia therapy. Oftentimes, patients are unable to chew effectively or may cough when they swallow. SLPs can help them learn to manage these issues with exercises for coordinating the swallowing muscles or stimulating the nerves that trigger the swallow reflex. The SLP also shows patients ways to place food in the mouth or position the body and head to help with swallowing.
No matter the condition, an SLP helps people gain greater control over speaking and language skills by setting up an individualized treatment program. The exercises might involve blowing on whistles to strengthen the tongue and lips, or the therapist may have the patient practice difficult sounds.
At Aegis Therapies, we follow a “restore, compensate, adapt” model of care. That is, we help patients “restore” certain abilities they have lost, learn strategies to “compensate” for abilities they cannot regain, and train caregivers to “adapt” their approach to help patients perform other unique but necessary tasks.
To learn more information about speech-language pathology, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's website.
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