speaking out: understanding speech therapy
October 24, 2022
Utilizing speech therapy techniques allows you to improve speech, language and communication skills affected by a traumatic brain injury, stroke or neurological condition.
What is Speech Therapy?
It’s the assessment and treatment of communication and speech disorders. Speech therapy focuses on comprehension, speech clarity, fluency and sound production. A speech-language pathologist creates a custom treatment plan based on your age, type and severity of your disorder, underlying medical conditions and associated treatments. The length of speech therapy depends on those factors and your progress.
Disorders That Require Speech Therapy
Cognitive communication disorders: Stroke, head injuries and other neurological trauma can damage the part of your brain responsible for speech and comprehension.
Articulation disorders: This speech disorder is characterized by an inability to make word sounds. You may distort certain words or have a lisp.
Fluency disorders: The rhythm and speed of your speech are affected by fluency disorders. Stuttering or merging words, known as cluttering, are common symptoms.
Resonance disorders: This speech problem is caused by an obstruction that prevents airflow to your nose and mouth. Resonance disorders change your voice quality as the vibrations from your vocal cords can’t flow properly.
Receptive disorders: A receptive disorder impacts your ability to understand others’ speech. You may not be able to focus while someone is speaking or experience difficulty following directions. Hearing loss and brain injuries can result in receptive disorders in adults.
Expressive disorders: You may have trouble expressing information and forming articulate. Expressive disordered can result from hearing loss, head trauma and underlying medical conditions.
Dysarthria: Weak mouth and facial muscles cause dysarthria, so you may struggle with slurred or slowed speech. It’s a common side effect of stroke and other neurological disorders.
Aphasia: This disorder is categorized by an inability to speak and understand speech. You may also be unable to read and write if you have aphasia.
Trouble swallowing: Weakened throat and mouth muscles make swallowing difficult and increase your risk of choking.
What to Expect During Speech Therapy
A speech-language pathologist assesses your condition to determine the type and cause of your speech disorder. They will create a treatment plan that includes exercises to help you rebuild and enhance communication, speech and swallowing skills.
Speech therapy includes:
- Tongue exercises
- Breathing techniques
- Smiling and lip puckering
- Reading aloud
- Word games
Perception exercises help you differentiate sounds and syllables. Other speech therapy practices teach you to produce certain sounds and boost fluency. Depending on the severity of your speech disorder, a speech-language pathologist could also implement communication tools such as sign language and dry-erase boards.
Benefits of Speech Therapy
- Improved speech and communication skills
- An ability to express your ideas, emotion and thoughts clearly
- An increased sense of self-confidence and independence
- Stronger voice quality
- Continued support and education
- Advice for family and friends
- Assistance implementing speech therapy techniques in your daily life