Just as patients with injuries or illnesses need therapy to regain independence, so do those with speech challenges. Speech therapy, as performed by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), enables patients to improve communication skills and related oratory difficulties.
The Misunderstood Aspect of Speech Therapy
Many patients and parents assume that speech therapy only deals with the production of sounds. While this is a large part of it, it isn’t the only kind of treatment included in speech therapy. Speech Therapy is designed to treat communication dysfunctions such as motor speech disorders and dysarthrias that may affect speech, along with swallowing disorders. Speech Therapy is led by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), also known as speech therapists, who work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in both children and adults.
Keep reading to learn about speech, language, and feeding therapies.
Common Speech Disorders in Adults
Speech therapy isn’t just for children “learning to talk”. Adults work with SLPs to improve communication skills. Perhaps the deficiency was never addressed in childhood, or it could be a result of a medical condition.
To speak correctly, your brain fires messages to your mouth. Apraxia occurs when a person’s brain misfires these messages. The miscommunication is likely due to a brain injury or other medical condition. The patient may or may not be able to make any sounds. Common symptoms include pronouncing sounds incorrectly, leaving sounds out completely, or adding new sounds to words.
Speaking requires the coordination of many muscles surrounding the face. When a brain injury occurs, those muscles are weakened. As a result, a patient with Dysarthria will speak with a slur, talk too quickly, slowly, or softly, or sound robotic and choppy.
Stuttering appears in the form of delaying between words, prolonging one syllable, or repeating one syllable multiple times. The cause is unknown, but it’s believed to be tied to family history and a miscommunication in the brain.
Although everyone faces vocal challenges from time to time, a patient with prolonged issues may have a voice disorder. These include nodules, polyps, paralysis, and others that prevent someone from speaking at full volume.
To learn about therapy for children at PT Solutions, visit our Pediatric Therapy treatment page.
As made obvious within the name, Speech-Language Pathologists help patients that face difficulties expressing or receiving language. Language therapy is helpful when someone experiences a life-altering medical condition where memory is impacted, like a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or dementia. They relearn how to perform basic tasks like speaking and swallowing.
Therapy improves speaking, reading, and comprehension skills, boosting patients’ confidence and independence. The following language disorders can occur in patients of all ages due to developmental challenges or medical conditions.
Patients undergo speech therapy for Receptive Language Disorder (RLD) if they are challenged with understanding what is being said to them. They appear to be ignoring speakers, bored with stories, fail to understand the meanings of words, and have an inability to follow verbal instructions.
If a patient has RLD, it’s likely that they also have Expressive Language Disorder (ELD). This is when a person has difficulty expressing him- or herself through speech, writing, or gestures. Patients with ELD are below average when it comes to crafting sentences and typically have grammatical errors, say less words than their peers, and use a limited vocabulary.
Cognitive-Communication Disorder brings challenges when it comes to memory, attention, insight, judgement, organization, and processing speed. Each of these cognitive processes stem from the frontal lobe of the brain. A patient with Cognitive-Communication Disorder struggles to stay focused in a conversation, recall information, respond appropriately, and understand sarcasm.
Dysphagia and Feeding Disorders
Dysphagia in adult patients, or feeding disorders for younger patients, impact their ability to speak, swallow, chew, drink, cough, or gag. You can identify dysphagia in adults due to their poor oral management, like drooling, trouble swallowing, and difficulty with the coordination of breathing while eating. An SLP will help diagnose and treat dysphagia. Their role in the care plan will help the patient return to appropriate nutrition and hydration.
Children with feeding disorders may avoid or limit food intake, which can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and challenges with daily tasks. Feeding disorder therapy helps put the patient and parents at ease at mealtime, when the most basic task of swallowing can be worrisome. To learn more about therapy for children at PT Solutions, visit our Pediatric Therapy treatment page.
Who Needs Speech Therapy?
Here are some of the most common reasons we suggest speech therapy to our patients:
- Articulation challenges
- Cleft lip or palate
- Cognitive or developmental delays
- Difficulties feeding and swallowing
- Hearing deficiencies
- Respiratory and breathing disorders
- Stutters or prolonging of syllables
- Traumatic brain injury
- Weak oral muscles
Speech Therapy at PT Solutions
For all patients with speech or language barriers, a PT Solutions therapist will complete a performance evaluation. Your Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) will evaluate your speech and language skills, including speech clarity and quality of voice, verbal and written expression (putting your thoughts into spoken words and writing) and auditory and reading comprehension (how well you understand what you hear and read).
For patients experiencing feeding and swallowing difficulties, we evaluate you to determine whether it is safe to eat by mouth. If so, we determine what diet is most appropriate, what maneuvers or postures are best for feeding, and what exercises can rehabilitate your feeding and swallowing. We may also assess your cognitive-linguistic skills, which include reasoning, problem-solving, memory, sequencing, orientation and executive functioning skills.
After a full evaluation, your SLP will develop a treatment plan that focuses on improving function in any of these areas by increasing strength of the speech and swallowing muscles and teaching compensatory strategies as appropriate. If you believe you could benefit from speech therapy, schedule a free screening to discuss your individualized treatment plan today!