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Speech Therapy and Rehabilitation

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

In acute inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, a multidisciplinary treatment team works closely to assist individuals in functioning a the maximum and r achieving the highest possible quality of life. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists work together to create an individualized plan of care for each patient.

But what is speech therapy?

Speech therapy is the assessment and treatment of communication problems, including thinking, speaking disorders as well as swallowing difficulties. Speech therapy techniques improve communication by using articulation therapy, language intervention activities, and other therapies and technologies depending upon the language disorder.

Speech-language pathologists (SLP), also called speech therapists, have specialized training to use the different speech therapy techniques and technologies. Speech therapists in rehabilitation hospitals primarily work with patients who have had their level of communication, thinking ability, or swallowing function impacted by a disease or injury. A few examples of patients who come to our rehab hospital needing speech therapy would be those who have had a stroke, brain injury, brain tumor, oral cancer, abnormal brain development, or Parkinson's disease as examples. In addition, memory loss or memory recall challenges, challenges in problem-solving, difficulty speaking or listening can all be impacted when certain parts of the brain have been damaged.

Words you may hear by your physician or therapists

Aphasia: a neurological disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that produce language. It may occur suddenly (from a stroke or brain injury) or over time (such as an infection or dementia), depending on the location in the brain involved. Primary signs of the disorder affect the person's ability to speak and understand and read and write.

Dysarthria: a symptom that affects speech by slowing or slurring communication. Dysarthria is often caused by weakness or the inability to control muscles used for speech. It is most commonly caused by nervous system disorders and conditions that cause facial paralysis or throat and tongue weakness, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral (ALS), and stroke.

Dysphagia: Difficulty in swallowing. Swallowing challenges can be the result of a neurological condition, with stroke being the most common. Traumatic brain injury; cerebral palsy; Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehring's disease), multiple sclerosis, and other degenerative neurological disorders

What happens during Speech Therapy?

During the admission process to a rehab hospital, our speech therapists would assess any issues related to speaking, swallowing, and understanding. This assessment would be shared with the rehab care team to prepare the individual plan of care around the patient's goals.

Some speech therapy exercises may include techniques in:

  • Problem-solving,

  • Memory recall

  • Organization of thoughts and words and other activities geared at improving cognitive communication

  • Conversational tactics to improve social communication.

  • Breathing exercises

  • Strengthen oral muscles

  • Games such as puzzles and word games for 'working' the brain

What's the difference between my occupational therapist and speech therapist?

Sometimes the types of difficulties experienced by patients, for example, the ability to think clearly, are treated by both occupational therapists and a speech pathologist. An occupational therapist may work with you on cognitive or thinking skills, which are essential for performing functions in your daily life. Your speech therapist may also work with you in these areas. However, the speech therapist's primary focus will be on communication, including reading and writing. Thus, even though it may appear there is an overlap, the therapists work together with their expertise to improve all aspects of the intended outcome of overall improvement.

What does recovery look like?

While rehab hospitals assist you in developing and meeting your overall goals to discharge the patient back to their home environment, we also provide the skills needed to continue the recovery once discharged from our hospital when indicated. For example, a speech deficit or ability to react and think clearly may persist after discharge from our rehab hospital. Therefore, the need for ongoing speech therapy and other therapies may be indicated on an outpatient basis, or even exercises at home may be recommended.

Speech Pathologists play a large part in the recovery process at Indianapolis Rehab Hospital. If you or a loved one has recently experienced an injury or disease that has affected the ability to speak, think, listen or swallow, please contact us today to learn more on how we can assist you in enjoying your life.

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