Adult Speech Therapy Services
Dysphagia/Swallowing Dysfunction Therapy Program
Currently an estimated 15 million people are living with a diagnosed swallowing disorder known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can result from a stroke, head injury, various neurological disorders or without any known cause. It is a serious disorder that can vary in its severity. Some individuals have trouble chewing and swallowing certain textures or consistencies of food and liquids. Others may be completely unable to swallow any food or liquid, or even their own saliva, and must receive all of their nutrition through a feeding tube. Dysphagia can diminish a person's quality of life by causing an individual to withdraw from social events and interactions that involve eating and drinking.
Our speech therapists perform comprehensive diagnostic evaluations to determine the cause and severity of the dysphagia and to develop an appropriate plan of treatment. The examination may include:
- visual inspection of the oral structures
- observation of chewing and swallowing of various foods and liquids (occurs during an office visit)
- radiological examination of the chewing and swallowing processes (conducted in the radiology department with a radiologist and a speech therapist)
Based on the results, our speech therapists develop individualized dysphagia therapy programs combining traditional techniques with the latest technology. The newest treatment in dysphagia involves the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Small electrodes are strategically placed on the front of the neck to target specific swallowing muscles. A mild electrical current is emitted to stimulate a contraction in the muscles while eating and drinking. Performed by one of our specially trained speech therapists, VitalStim therapy is the only FDA-approved system for the treatment of swallowing disorders. Our VitalStim-certified therapists help patients "re-educate" the muscles necessary for safe and efficient swallowing.
Voice Evaluation and Therapy
We provide diagnosis and treatment for patients experiencing voice problems such as hoarseness, loss of voice or weak voice. These conditions are often associated with extended laryngitis, gastric reflux, vocal cord paralysis or neurological illness such as Parkinson's disease.
Videostroboscopy is a state-of-the-art diagnostic procedure available for observing and recording the motion of the vocal cords. It allows for easy examination of the vocal cords which vibrate much too rapidly to be seen with the unaided eye. Videostroboscopy makes the visual images of the vibration appear to be seen in either stop action or slow motion. This allows tiny abnormalities influencing the voice to be seen. From the resulting visual images, an accurate assessment can be made and appropriate treatment recommended.
The loss of receptive and/or expressive language skills due to a stroke is known as aphasia. Persons with aphasia may experience difficulty performing the communication-related activities of daily living.
Speech therapy following a stroke can improve speaking, listening, reading, writing, reasoning and swallowing impairments. To complement traditional speech therapy services for aphasia, speech generating devices, such as the Lingraphica or Dynavox, improve functional communication. Also, various computer software programs for use in therapy and at home exist for speech practice.
If additional rehabilitative services are needed, our multi-disciplinary team of speech, physical and occupational therapists will coordinate a comprehensive treatment approach and schedule that will facilitate your recovery.
Head & Neck Cancer Treatment
Speech and swallowing therapies are available for individuals who have had surgical and/or radiological treatment for cancer in the head and neck. For those who have had their larynx removed, services include voice prothesis fittings and artificial larynx instruction.