Speech Language Pathology for Adults
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You may be familiar with children’s speech therapy, but did you know adults go through speech and communication problems too? These problems may have their roots in an accidental brain injury or an underlying illness.
How does speech-language therapy work?
Keep it simple
Speech-language therapy for adults addresses a wide range of communication, speech, cognitive, and swallowing problems. The patients may experience disorganization in thoughts, difficulty pronouncing particular sounds, memory issues, and difficulty swallowing. For instance, Parkinson’s disease makes it difficult for the patient to swallow edibles.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP), commonly known as a therapist, performs a detailed assessment, which may involve asking questions and showing imagery. The purpose is to:
- Dig deep into the cause of the problem.
- Determine what the particular patient needs.
- Decide an appropriate course of action or treatment.
Once the diagnosis is complete, the therapist starts therapy sessions or recommends exercises to alleviate the language or speech difficulties the adult is suffering from. The problems may include dysphagia (swallowing problems), stuttering, Aphasia (after stroke), articulation issues, and other cognitive difficulties.
What’s being done?
For swallowing issues, the pathologist asks about the details of the problem, patient’s medical history, and diet. The patient’s reflexes plus throat and mouth muscles are examined by the therapist. Consistencies with various foods may also be checked. The therapist then suggests some exercises to strengthen oral muscles.
For communication problems, the origin, nature, and impact of the patient’s difficulties are assessed. The S-LP will ask questions and show pictures to evaluate every aspect of the patient’s language difficulties. After a detailed assessment, follows a diagnosis and therapy plan.
Stammering or Stuttering
Adult stammering can be a childhood problem that continued into adulthood. For some, stuttering is triggered during certain activities, while some may experience it all the time. It can be embarrassing and some patients may even avoid social interactions. S-LP helps them in speaking fluency and to communicate confidently and effectively. The therapy techniques will depend on the individual patient’s needs. Practices that can help include learning to release the tension, easy-breathing, or gentle starts.
Aphasia is a form of communication problem that arises as a result of a stroke. The damage to the part of the brain controlling language causes this issue. Aphasia poses problems in talking, reading, writing, or even understanding. The patient practices and relearns language skills and is taught to use other ways for effective communication by the therapist.
An articulation disorder is when the patient faces difficulty in producing particular sounds or consistently mispronounces some. For instance, some pronounce rabbit as “wabbit”, not being able to pronounce the “r” sound. These difficulties are commonly addressed by scheduling one-on-one sessions with the S-LP (therapist).
Effective exercises in language-speech therapy for adults include
- Improving cognitive-communication using problem-solving, memory, organization, and other techniques.
- Improvement in resonance through breathing exercises.
- Conversational techniques to address social communication issues.
- Exercises for development and strengthening of oral muscles.
Plus, there are apps for speech therapy, games for language development e.g. flashcards, and workbooks to improve the cognitive abilities of the patient. And the patient can conveniently perform these activities at home.
Language speech therapy can help alleviate or even completely treat a broad range of issues. Early intervention proves to be more effective in helping patients communicate effectively with confidence.