Has your medical team told you that speech therapy could help you? Have they referred you to an outpatient speech therapy provider?
If so, and this will be your first experience with this type of therapy, there's a good chance that you have some questions.
So what can speech therapy do for you? How can it help? The answer to these questions will depend upon the specific condition for which you need therapy, but we’ll go over some general information on what speech therapy is used for and how it can help people who make use of it.
What is Outpatient Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is a mode of treatment that is provided by speech language pathologists and their support staff. These professionals diagnose and treat difficulties or disorders related to communication and/or swallowing. These conditions may be caused by a wide variety of medical problems or injuries, with common examples including stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, neurological diseases, conditions or injuries, or cognitive impairments, among others.
Outpatient speech therapy is typically provided in clinics, therapists offices, or other healthcare facilities, to patients by appointment. Patients typically see patients for 30 minutes to an hour, and regular sessions are usually necessary to address speech/language/swallowing issues.
What Are Some Conditions or Issues It Can Help With?
Outpatient speech therapy can, through therapeutic training and education, help people overcome or compensate for speech, language or swallowing impairments. Conditions or disorders that are commonly treated via speech therapy include:
Aphasia – This is the loss of the ability to communicate through speech or to understand speech due to damage to the brain’s language center, often caused by stroke or brain injury.
Apraxia of speech – This is a neurological condition that causes people to have a difficult time controlling the muscles in their mouths and tongues to speak.
Dysarthria – People who suffer from this disorder, which is most commonly caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury, have trouble speaking clearly. Speech is typically slow and slurred.
Dysphagia – A fairly common side effect of stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury, dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing foods and/or liquids due to weakness or paralysis in muscles. The condition can range from mild to severe, and can lead to choking, coughing, throat pain and a feeling of food being stuck in the mouth or throat, among other symptoms.
Speech therapists use a wide range of treatments and techniques to help patients overcome or manage these and other conditions, helping them improve oral motor skills for better speech, rebuild language comprehension skills, use alternative communication strategies or use therapeutic strategies to improve their ability to swallow efficiently.
Therapy plans in a solid outpatient speech therapy program are highly personalized, based on a thorough assessment of each patient, and are designed to meet their individual treatment needs and goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.