What you need to know about speech therapy

The ability to communicate is vital to how we experience the world and engage in our daily lives. When we lose the ability to speak or to be understood by others, due to physical trauma or a condition, it can be devastating. A person can develop communication problems if they have a stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion or have a neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Communication difficulty can impact a person’s independence and quality of life, but there is hope in speech therapy. This type of specialized therapy can help improve communication skills and the quality of life. Speech language pathologists work with people who have problems with speech, language, thinking and swallowing.

Types of communication problems

There are four main types of disorders that cause communication problems. Language disorders like aphasia are caused by brain trauma such as a stroke, particularly among older people. The main symptom of aphasia is the impairment in the person’s ability to speak, understand spoken words, as well as their reading and writing skills. Cognitive-communication disorders can be a result of numerous medical conditions, including a traumatic brain injury or stroke. They are characterized by difficulty with attention span, memory, reasoning and organization. Motor speech disorders such as dysarthria result from weakness, paralysis or coordination problems of the muscles that control speech. This condition can result from neurological diseases and injuries. Apraxia is another motor speech disorder that occurs when the person has difficulty in saying sounds, syllables and words. The difficulty occurs because of problems in coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say words. Finally, voice disorders are abnormalities in the pitch, volume, duration or quality of the voice. Hoarseness caused by vocal abuse or misuse is the most common voice disorder; however, infection, trauma, acid reflux and cancer can also cause voice disorders.

Signs of communication problems

  • Struggling to make sounds or words
  • Repetition of words or parts of words
  • Stuttering
  • Mumbling
  • Speaking in short, fragmented phrases
  • Speaking words in the wrong order
  • Struggling to use words
  • Difficulty understanding others
  • Difficulty imitating speech sounds
  • Slow or quick rate of speech
  • Slurred speech

How speech therapy can help

Speech therapy programs are personalized to fit the needs and goals of the individual. Speech language pathologists identify areas for improvement and work with a person to develop goals and an appropriate plan of care. They also teach techniques and strategies to improve communication. As therapy continues, they review and modify these goals according to the person’s progress.

If you are experiencing communication difficulties and would like the help of qualified and caring professionals, contact Rehab First here or call us at 877-707-2280.

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