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Speech therapy

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Aphasia

Aphasia is a language disorder resulting from an injury to the brain, typically seen in individuals who have had strokes, brain tumors or traumatic brain injuries. People with aphasia can have difficulty with one or more of the following skills: expressing and/or understanding spoken language or writing or understanding written language.

Our speech-language therapists work with patients to screen, assess, diagnose and treat individuals with aphasia. Treatment can sometimes include family members, friends or others who support the individual with aphasia. Treatment focuses on rebuilding the language skills to support the individual so they can participate to the best of their ability in communication activities.

Apraxia

Apraxia is a motor planning or programming disorder that can occur with many different parts of the body. Individuals would seek out a speech therapist for apraxia if they were having difficulty with the movement of their tongue, mouth and/or lips to produce speech. Apraxia is not a disorder of muscle weakness or paralysis. Apraxia can co-occur with aphasia and/or dysarthria. Apraxia is seen most often in individuals with stroke, traumatic brain injuries, tumors or neurodegenerative diseases.

Our speech-language therapists work with patients to screen, assess, diagnose and treat individuals with apraxia. Treatment approaches can be restorative and/or compensatory in nature, depending on severity. Treatment can sometimes include family members, friends or others who support the individual with apraxia. Sessions focus on facilitating communication, achieving the highest level of independent function as possible.

Cognitive/memory impairment

Cognitive/memory impairment are difficulties with thinking and remembering details. It can also include difficulty with concentration, processing information, memory and planning/organization of information. It can include difficulty with short-term or long-term memory. These deficits can come from a variety of causes, including concussions or brain injuries, Alzheimer's/dementia, stroke, and natural aging.

Our speech-language therapists work with patients to screen, assess, diagnose and treat individuals with cognitive or memory impairments. Treatment approaches can be restorative and/or compensatory in nature, depending on severity and etiology. Individuals with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and their families will work with speech-language therapists to learn compensatory strategies and environmental adaptations as the disease progresses.

Concussion

A concussion is an injury that occurs from a blow to the head, face or neck. The force is transferred to the brain and may temporarily alter an individual's mental or physical abilities. Some individuals may lose consciousness with the event of a concussion, but many do not. Symptoms may appear immediately, or may not be noticed until days after.

Common concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Decreased memory.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty with concentration.
  • Dizziness.
  • Noise sensitivity.

Our speech-language therapists work with patients to educate about concussions, including cognitive rest, energy management and symptom management. Speech-language therapists also work with school districts, employers and other individuals for recommendations and accommodations for returning to school and work. Cognitive skills are also targeted during sessions.

Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of brain injury causes by sudden damage to the brain. Injuries can be open- or closed-head injuries. The most common causes for brain injuries include falls, motor vehicle accidents and violent assaults. A wide variety of deficits occur from TBIs, including physical, sensory, cognitive-communication, swallowing and behavioral.

Patients with any type of damage and severity level can be treated by a speech-language therapist. The focus of sessions with vary depending on deficits and severity. Skills worked on in sessions can include attention, reasoning, problem solving, executive functioning, memory, swallowing and language. Treatment can sometimes include family members, friends or others who support the individual with a TBI.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder resulting from impaired movement of the muscles used for speech production. This can include the lips, tongue, vocal folds and diaphragm. There are several types of dysarthria, classified by the different characteristics heard in respiration, phonation, resonance, articulation and prosody. Dysarthria is seen most often in individuals with stroke, traumatic brain injuries, tumors, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis.

Our speech-language therapists will screen, assess, diagnose and treat individuals with dysarthria. Based on the type of dysarthria, speech therapy can take many forms, including working on rate of speech, improving breath support, strengthening muscles, increasing movement of lips and tongue, and targeting specific speech sounds. Treatment approaches can be restorative and/or compensatory in nature, depending on severity. Treatment can sometimes include family members, friends or others who support the individual with dysarthria.

Dysphagia

Dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing, occurring at one or more of the different stages. Oral phase dysphagia is difficulty with preparing the food for swallowing, including chewing, sucking, and moving the food and liquid toward the back of the throat.

Pharyngeal phase dysphagia involves the process of moving food and liquid through the throat toward the esophagus. Difficulty with the pharyngeal phase of swallowing can lead to choking, aspiration or getting food stuck in your throat.

Esophageal phase dysphagia is difficulty with food traveling from the top of the esophagus into the stomach.
Dysphagia has many etiologies, including stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, head and neck cancer, prolonged intubation, and advanced age. Signs of dysphagia include:

  • Coughing/clearing your throat during or right after eating.
  • Wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating.
  • Food or liquid spilling from mouth.
  • Recurrent pneumonia or chest congestion.
  • Weight loss or dehydration from not eating enough.

Our speech-language therapists screen, assess, diagnose and treat individuals with dysphagia. Treatment focuses on swallowing and strategies to prevent aspiration and make swallowing safer for individuals. Therapeutic exercises may be given to address weakness of muscles involved in swallowing. Recommendations related to food textures and liquid thickness may be given to prevent aspiration. We have the capability to complete videofluoroscopic swallow studies to determine swallow function and detect aspiration.

Voice disorders

Voice disorders are issues that affect voice production, including vocal cord nodules and polyps, vocal cord paralysis, paradoxical vocal fold movement, and spasmodic dysphonia. If you have one of these disorders, you may present with a hoarse voice, straining to make voice, speaking with a lower tone, intermittent voice breaks or no voice at all. Voice disorders can be caused by over- or misuse of your voice, damage to your nerves, or other related causes.

Therapy for voice disorders can vary depending on symptoms and cause for your symptoms. Our therapists work with you on vocal hygiene habits, effectively using your voice, compensation techniques and breathing techniques. Treatment approaches can be restorative and/or compensatory in nature, depending on etiology.