What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy, also known as speech pathology, is the study and treatment of speech and language problems.
Speech pathologists are experts who treat issues including receptive and expressive language, articulation of speech sounds, phonological delays, stuttering, pragmatics, reading, literacy, feeding, swallowing and more. Speech and language therapy also addresses dysphagia, providing treatment to ensure safe and sufficient swallow when eating and drinking.
When do you need language therapy services?
For pediatrics, language therapy is utilized for an expressive language delay or developmental delay. There are myriad reasons why children might not develop language — everything from ear infections to cerebral palsy, a brain tumor to autism spectrum disorder.
For adults, language delay could be due to a traumatic brain injury, progressive neurogenic disorder like Parkinson’s, or a stroke.
What is a speech-language pathologist?
A speech-language pathologist is an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)-certified specialist at Brooks who treat pediatric patients and adults in the areas of voice, swallowing, cognitive therapy, language therapy, motor speech, and more. They are passionate therapists who provide quality care in the Brooks’ patient-centered continuum of care.
Types of speech and language therapy
Pediatric speech and language therapy
Pediatric Speech and Language Therapy looks at different areas of communication, including receptive and expressive language, articulation, fluency (stuttering), feeding and swallowing, and pragmatics. Pediatric speech therapy works with children 0-18 to improve overall language skills and help patients engage and attend to tasks to increase understanding and expression of their wants and needs to familiar and unfamiliar listeners. Pediatric therapy also focuses on safe and sufficient swallow to reduce any signs or symptoms of choking or distress when engaged in meals.
Neurological speech and language therapy
Speech-language therapy can be helpful for individuals who experience new or longstanding difficulties with communication, cognition, voice, speech, and swallowing as a result of changes in the brain, such as brain cancer, brain injury, stroke, and/or degenerative conditions (Parkinson Disease, Dementia, ALS, Primary Progressive Aphasia).
Oncology speech and language therapy
For individuals embarking on radiation therapy for oral, head, and neck cancer(s), SLP services can help to manage common changes in swallowing that occur early on in radiation therapy and/or later on into survivorship.
Voice therapy consists of various exercises, techniques and behavior modifications. These activities are developed to improve a patient’s vocal quality so that they can be heard and understood in a variety of environments.
Swallow therapy consists of various exercises, techniques, strategies and diet modifications. We educate the patient and caregiver on ways to minimize the risk of aspiration (choking) so that the patient can safely reach his/her least restrictive diet and maintain a good quality of life.
Aphasia therapy consists of various language treatments to improve the patient’s ability to talk, understand, read and write more effectively. We educate the patient and caregiver on ways to decrease communication barriers and improve overall communication skills.
Cognitive therapy consists of various activities and strategies to improve a patient’s attention, executive functioning, organization, memory, orientation and visuospatial skills. This type of therapy improves a patient’s ability to manage activities of daily living (i.e. making financial decisions, medication management).
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy
AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. AAC is a greatly needed service within the scope of Speech-Language Pathology. This service focuses on providing individuals with an external communication system when verbal speech fails to meet an individual’s basic, fundamental right to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas. AAC provides a person with a language system for independent communication at a level that respects their overall intelligence and desired level of communication.
What to expect
The very first appointment with the Speech Language Pathologist is the initial evaluation. The evaluation involves an interview, testing and clinical observation. At the beginning, the therapist asks various questions about the patient’s medical history, their complaints and their ultimate goals for therapy.
Then, the therapist administers tests to establish a baseline and to determine areas of improvement. Based on the interview responses and the performance on the tests, the therapist then develops a plan of care and goals for that patient.
Next, we schedule the patient for the recommended appointments. During the follow up appointments, the therapist educates the patient on their goals, plan of care, and discusses strategies and techniques that are helpful for the patient to utilize. The therapist also develops various tasks/activities for the patient to perform throughout their future sessions to help reach their goals.
Benefits of speech and language therapy
The benefits of speech and language therapy vary for each patient depending on their individualized goals.
We help patients speak more clearly and fluently, understand/use language more efficiently, improve vocal quality, increase swallow safety and enhance their cognitive skills for a better quality of life.
When a patient finishes therapy, they can safely utilize strategies and techniques independently or with minimal assistance outside of the clinic. We expect them to confidently maintain their level of communication, swallowing skills, cognitive abilities and vocal quality in various scenarios of their daily life.
Do you need a referral to see a speech-language pathologist?
Patients will need to obtain a referral from their physician prior to starting SLP services. Once obtained, the patient schedules their initial evaluation at the clinic that best offers the services necessary for their recovery.
However, at our Aphasia Center and in our community programs, you do not need any type of referral.
How to find a speech-language pathologist
Brooks Rehabilitation has many outpatient facilities with vast treatment options for speech language-pathology therapy throughout the greater Jacksonville, Fernandina, St. Augustine, Daytona, Orlando, and Tampa regions. To find a location closest to you and your needs, please visit our full locations page to find speech therapy services.