Most people associate Speech Pathologists, formerly Speech Therapists, with childhood articulation problems or adult therapy following a stroke. Speech Pathologists certainly work with these populations, but there is much more in our scope of practice.
Areas we evaluate and treat when appropriate, include language, speech, accent reduction, voice, cognition, swallowing, stuttering and alternative/augmentative communication.
Here are the most common speech disorders we evaluate and treat at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital:
Aphasia – The inability or decreased ability to understand others or express oneself; the decreased ability to interpret and use language for communication. Difficulties may occur with speaking, listening/comprehending, reading or writing. Treatment options can include teaching alternative ways to communicate and treatment to improve the areas of difficulty.
Apraxia -The decreased ability or inability to position the lips, tongue or vocal folds to produce various sounds for speech resulting not from weakness but from the inability of the brain to plan the motor movements of the lips and tongue. It is as if the speech signal from the brain is interrupted on its way to the mouth. A person with apraxia may know what he or she wants to say but cannot produce the correct sounds for each word. Treatment includes relearning the sounds that are most difficult for the patient to pronounce, using song or automatic speech to increase speech production and using alternative or “non-speech” methods to communicate.
Dysarthria -The decreased ability to produce clear, understandable speech; frequently called slurred speech. Dysarthria is the result of weakness or incoordination of one or more of the following speech systems: articulation, phonation (the ability to voice), respiration, resonance (the ability to direct air for speech out mouth or nose) and prosody (the rhythm and inflection of speech).
Cognition -The thinking skills; the mental functions of the brain, the skills that allow us to function independently in our daily lives. These include attention/concentration, memory, problem solving, reasoning, judgment, and visual spatial construction (problems with depth perception, difficulty drawing or copying, math deficits and visual neglect).
Dysphagia or swallowing problems – A decreased ability to chew and /or swallow food, liquid or saliva; structures include the lips, tongue, teeth, mouth, throat, and esophagus. This can be the result of stroke, brain injury, surgery neurological diseases or injury to the throat. Evaluation is done at the bedside or with a Modified Barium Swallow Study when indicated.
Our Speech Pathologists work to improve the quality of life for patients in order to facilitate the safest discharge possible.
For more information about rehabilitation at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, go to: Rehab Services.