Mouth function can dramatically change the quality of a person’s life. From breathing to eating to speaking to singing, the mouth plays many important roles.
That’s why, when things go wrong, it’s important to diagnose and treat the problem right away, and that treatment may involve speech therapy. While speech therapy is often thought of as a treatment for children with speech disorders, it actually addresses far more than that.
Benefits of speech therapy
When someone has a hard time communicating, understanding other people, or swallowing, speech therapy can be helpful, according to Solaris HealthCare, a Florida-based skilled nursing and rehab center.
These are a few possible causes of speech, language and voice disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health:
· Cancer – especially of the mouth, throat or esophagus
· Aphasia – a communication disorder caused by damage or injury to the brain’s language centers
· Parkinson’s Disease – may affect speaking, swallowing or both
· Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia – may affected speaking, swallowing, or both
The role of a speech-language pathologist
Because speech-related disorders are so diverse, only a medical professional, known as a speech-language pathologist, can properly evaluate, diagnose and treat someone displaying the symptoms of a speech disorder.
One of the first things a speech language pathologist will do is identify symptoms of a speech, language or voice disorder:
· Slurred or unclear speech that is difficult to understand
· Difficulty finding words
· Inability to understand others
· Changes in voice quality
· Difficulty in following directions
· Memory problems
· Inability to do sequence an activity in order
· Swallowing problems with liquid or food
A common speech problem in adults who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or stroke is aphasia. Individuals with aphasia may have difficulty expressing themselves, reading or understanding speech. The debilitating symptoms can drastically impair their quality of life.
Fortunately, aphasia can be treated, according to the National Stroke Association.
Caregivers can also use certain activities, such as word-based games, crossword puzzles, reading or singing aloud, and writing practice to enhance the effects of speech therapy.
Reducing swallowing difficulties
Speech therapy can offer relief to individuals experiencing symptoms of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal dysphagia, as well. These disorders are more common in survivors of certain cancers and strokes, people with neurological or nervous system disorders and those who have Parkinson’s disease.
One symptom is pain when swallowing, which can lead to weight loss, aspiration pneumonia and choking.
To relieve issues with swallowing, a speech language pathologist can teach exercises to improve muscle movement – which may include electrical stimulation – positions or strategies to swallow more effectively, and which textures are easier and safer to swallow, according to Solaris.
Skilled nursing and assisted living communities such as Solaris offer access to speech language pathology services to their patients. Stop in to see why Solaris is your first choice for rehab.