– Speech, language and swallowing disorders are common following stroke, head and neck cancer and other illnesses in adults. The speech-language pathologists at Goshen Rehabilitation encourage community members to learn the signs – and seek an evaluation – if they have concerns about themselves or a loved one. This is a timely message, as May is recognized nationally as Better Hearing & Speech Month.
“Many people may not appreciate their ability to communicate until it’s lost,” said Audra Joldersma, speech-language pathologist at Goshen Rehabilitation. “Communication is at the core of having your basic needs met to nurturing relationships and earning a living.”
Speech and language disorders that may be acquired in adulthood include the following:
- Aphasia. This involves problems speaking, understanding, reading, writing, telling time and/or using numbers. Often misunderstood, aphasia does not affect a person’s intelligence. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke.
- Cognitive-communication disorders. Problems with thinking and communication can affect each other. Some examples are difficulty paying attention, remembering, organizing thoughts and solving problems.
- Apraxia of speech. Difficulties arise from problems with motor movements involved in producing speech. It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that are involved in speaking.
- Dysarthria. Speech difficulties (e.g., slurred speech) due to weakness of muscles involved in breathing and/or speaking.
- Voice disorders. Changes in pitch, loudness and vocal quality that negatively impact communication. These may result from nodules on the vocal cord, overuse/misuse of voice (e.g., yelling), diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis and other causes.
Speech-language pathologists can help adults with these and other communication problems.
“Swallowing disorders, called dysphagia, are also treated by speech-language pathologists and are another common side effect of numerous diseases in adults,” Joldersma added. “A person’s ability to eat and drink is critical to maintaining good health and promoting recovery from illness. Food is also a central part of many social experiences – contributing to an enjoyable and fulfilling life. Treatment can be truly transformative to a person’s quality of life and overall health.”
Speech-language pathologists treat dysphagia in various ways, including these:
- Helping people use their muscles to chew and swallow.
- Finding better positions for people to sit or hold their head while eating.
- Identifying strategies to make swallowing better and safer.
- Advising people on their dietary choices, including softer foods or thicker drinks.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like to schedule an assessment, please contact Goshen Rehabilitation at (574) 537-0962.
About Goshen Health:
Goshen Health is a community-owned, nonprofit healthcare organization committed to improving the health of its communities. To live out the organization’s mission, Colleagues practice compassion, accountability, respect and excellence in every endeavor. The health system includes 38 locations across four counties with specialized cancer care; heart and vascular care; and a physician’s network with primary and specialty care.
For more information about Goshen Health, contact Liz Fisher at (574) 364-2776, firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.GoshenHealth.com