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Speech and language pathology

Our board-certified speech-language pathologists can help individuals of all ages improve their quality of life by maximizing their communication potential. Problems may include difficulty in expressing thoughts and feelings, understanding what people are saying, or inability to understand or remember what was read.

The inability to speak clearly and fluently, voice quality problems and swallowing problems are also addressed. The scope of services provided by speech-language pathology services includes the evaluation and treatment of inpatient and outpatient infants, children and adults.

Adult and children services

Adult speech and language disorders

Inpatient and outpatient services for adult speech and language disorders include therapy for:

  • Aphasia: The loss of ability to understand or express speech, cause by brain damage.
  • Apraxia: Inability to perform particular purposive actions, as a result of brain damage.
  • Dysarthria: Difficult or unclear articulation of speech that is otherwise linguistically normal.
  • Linguistic: Cognitive communication.
  • Brain injury.

Adult swallowing disorders

Nearly 15 million adults in the United States have some form of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). This can be the result of a neurological event or disorder, head or neck cancer, or an unknown cause.

Our inpatient and outpatient speech-language pathologists provide a broad range of services for dysphagia. Clinical evaluation may include a video fluoroscopic swallow study, which observes how different textures and consistencies of food and drink move through the patient's mouth, throat and esophagus, or it may entail a test where the patient's swallowing is observed via a flexible endoscope inserted through the nose.

After you complete your evaluation, our pathologists likely will recommend therapy, which can include diet modification training, teaching of compensatory strategies, exercises and neuromuscular electrical stimulation.

Adult voice evaluation and treatment

Inpatient and outpatient services for voice disorders are also available at Sky Lakes Medical Center. The speech-language pathologists work closely with the ear, nose and throat (ENT) physicians in the community to evaluate and treat a variety of voice disorders.

After acoustic and instrumental assessments are completed, the speech team is ready to work with patients to improve their daily lives by helping them vocalize normally. Treatment consists of weekly visits to the speech-language pathologist as well as assignments to be practiced at home.

A new therapy option available in our voice clinic is the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) program. People with Parkinson's disease and other conditions, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and stroke, often have speech problems due to abnormal vocal fold closure and breath support. LSVT, an internationally recognized program, is an intensive treatment program designed to increase loudness and voice awareness and to improve overall communication.

Children's feeding and swallowing disorders

Sky Lakes Medical Center provides evaluations and therapy—both inpatient and outpatient—for children who have difficulties with feeding or swallowing.

Many children have difficulties that make it hard for them to be fed or feed themselves. Our speech-language pathologists will complete a full evaluation before recommending modifications to improve the child's ability to take in food and drink.

For children who have true dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), our pediatric speech-language pathologist follows the same protocol for evaluations, recommendations and follow-up therapy as with adults.

The outpatient speech-language pathologists work with children for a variety of communication difficulties. These include evaluations and treatment for:

  • Articulation disorder.
  • Expressive and receptive language.
  • Social skills needed for effective communication.
  • Stuttering/fluency.
  • Voice disorders.
  • Apraxia: A childhood motor speech disorder.

Children's speech and language disorders

The outpatient speech-language pathologists work with children for a variety of communication difficulties.

These include evaluations and treatment for:

  • Articulation disorder: Speech sound disorders that affect the child's ability to be understood by others.
  • Expressive and receptive language: Vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, following directions, understanding family and peers.
  • Social skills needed for effective communication: Difficulties often seen with children who have autism or autistic tendencies, or syndromes that might affect socialization skills.
  • Stuttering/fluency: Struggle in the production of a sound in a word, usually consisting of sound/syllable repetitions, sound prolongations and silent blocks.
  • Voice disorders: Often seen with children who have poor vocal behaviors (yelling, grunting, screaming).
  • Apraxia: Sound sequence difficulties, often hard to understand.