What types of patients are seen by a speech pathologist?
Individuals who have suffered from a stroke and have difficult speaking and/or swallowing (dysphagia) are often seen by a speech pathologist for extensive rehabilitation. Although speech may not return to its previous capacity, a speech pathologist will teach the patient strategies to increase the effectiveness of communication and promote independence.
Dysphagia is treated in several different ways. Depending on the type of dysphagia and structure impaired, treatment can range from exercises for the tongue and airway protection exercises to strategies to use during meals that will facilitate a safe and efficient swallow.
Speech pathologists work with children who have speech and/or language delays and swallowing issues.
Speech and language are two separate categories:
- Speech is the verbal means of communicating – children with a speech delay may have difficulties in the areas of articulation (how speech sounds are made), voice, and fluency (the rhythm of speech).
- Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following: what words mean, how to make new words (example – friend, friendly, unfriendly), and how to put words together in a sentences. Children with language delays may have shorter verbal utterances than their peers, have difficulty answering/asking wh-questions (example – what, when, where) and producing grammatically correct sentences.
Speech pathology at Winneshiek Medical Center offers therapy following the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT), a proven speech treatment program that restores oral communication in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The LSVT approach centers on increasing vocal loudness. The key targets acts as a trigger to increase effort and coordination across the speech production system.
At the end of one month of treatments, patients are able to use treatment strategies on their own, dramatically improving their functional communication, and as a result, their quality of life.
People who overuse their voices, such as teachers, coaches or lawyers, may suffer from vocal hoarseness by unknowingly speaking in a way that places stress on their neck and vocal cords. This stress can cause the voice to sound weak, hoarse, breathy or rough. Speech pathology at Winneshiek Medical Center teaches patients to speak resonantly, or to use their voice to its fullest potential.
In some cases, polyps or cysts can develop due to continued misuse. Therapy helps restore vocal abilities, improving a patient’s quality of life.