A speech pathologist or a speech therapist is a clinician who focuses on the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders, including issues with speech, language, and even the voice itself. These specialists also assist patients who have cognitive disorders and swallowing disorders from health conditions that affect the tongue and mouth.
Speech language pathologists work with patients of all ages and with all sorts of oral issues. Let’s talk about the many reasons for seeking speech therapy and how it may help you or your child.
CONDITIONS SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS TREAT
While you may assume that speech pathologists only help people with speaking, the responsibilities actually go much further. These therapists can help patients re-learn or gain the ability to move the muscles in and around the mouth and throat in order to function normally.
Conditions that are treated by these specialists include the following:
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing or eating)
- Strained vocal cords
- Cleft palates
- Healing from laryngectomy
- Healing from tracheotomy
- Cognitive disorders caused by stroke, brain injury (including brain surgery), or dementia
- Aphasia (understanding and verbalizing spoken or written language)
- Apraxia of speech (frequent mispronunciation of common words)
- Developmental speech disorders
- Dysarthria (weak muscles causing slurring)
CREATING A CUSTOMIZED PLAN FOR THE PATIENT
Each patient is different and needs an individualized program in order to achieve success. Every patient is therefore given a unique set of exercises that they are supposed to practice on their own time.
A patient who is recovering from a stroke, brain surgery, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) are likely going to need speech therapy to help re-wire the language centers of the brain. If someone was born with a speech problem, surgery may be required to repair craniofacial abnormalities; therapy will then be required to help the patient use their revised oral muscles properly.
IMPROVING DELAYED LANGUAGE AND SPEECH IN CHILDREN
The earlier a child with speech difficulties is treated, the better their outcome will be – and the better their psychological response will be. A recent study showed a direct correlation between children with developmental speech and language problems when young and social problems that emerge in adolescence.
If young children are exhibiting language problems, they will likely first be sent to an audiologist, who is trained to identify and measure hearing problems. If there are no hearing issues, the child may then go to a developmental psychologist, who will look for signs of psychological disorders. This specialist will also look for any indications of abuse, which can also cause speech problems in children.
If all of this is verified as normal, then the child will see a speech pathologist to identify what may be causing the speech and language disorder. The speech therapist will work one-on-one with the child to assist them in improving their communication skills.
COMPREHENSIVE HOSPITAL WITH SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS
Wooster Community Hospital’s HealthPoint speech pathologists are specially trained to treat a person who has a speech, cognitive, or swallowing disorder. Our speech therapists can perform modified barium swallow evaluations for swallowing problems, and they can perform tongue-thrust therapy and re-train those oral muscles to behave as they should.
If you or your child needs to see a speech pathologist for an evaluation or treatment, contact our caring team at Wooster Community Hospital today by calling us at (330) 263-8100 or request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you here.