“I don’t know why my doctor thinks I need speech therapy – there’s nothing wrong with my speech.” As a speech therapist (also called a Speech-Language Pathologist or SLP), this is a statement I hear a lot from first-time patients. While many people think of speech therapy as a service to improve one’s articulation or speaking skills, this is actually just one area that SLPs address. In fact, SLPs, particularly those in the adult rehab setting, work with patients who have difficulty swallowing, difficulty using or understanding language, as well as difficulty with their thinking skills.
Therapy to address thinking skill areas such as memory, problem solving, organization and reasoning, is a common need following a stroke or head injury. SLPs help patients develop compensatory strategies for these skills while also providing exercises and targeted practice activities intended to help strengthen “weak” areas. These are important skills for improving patients’ safety and independence as they work toward returning to home and work responsibilities.
Swallowing problems are also seen in some patients following stroke, head injury or other illnesses. In these cases, SLPs assist doctors in determining which food and drink consistencies patients are safe to consume. The SLP will then work with the patients, using exercises and compensatory techniques, to help them develop the strength and coordination needed to improve their safety for tolerating more advanced food/liquid consistencies.
The SLPs at Sheltering Arms have expertise in a wide range of areas and can be a great resource for patients who are recovering from neurological events. ■
For more information contact:
Emily Sherald, SLP
Sheltering Arms - Bon Air Center