Many people think of speech therapy as a means to help kids speak sounds that are hard for them to say. While Speech therapists indeed do just that, they also do much more, especially for the senior community. They play an important role in inpatient rehab.
Speech problems for the older community
Most of the speech therapy done for the older community takes place in a rehab program for people who have lost various speech abilities due to stroke, TBI, or other condition. A stroke, for example, can cause loss of muscle tone, loss of short-term memory, and swallowing issues. Intense speech therapy is often necessary to help the patient regain skills that were previously second nature but now are forgotten or require a lot of effort.
Speech therapists work as part of a team of inpatient rehab specialists who work together to develop a plan for each patient and apprise each other of progress. An advance or a setback in one area can affect the other elements of the program, so the team has daily meetings to give each other feedback and make changes as necessary. This also prepares each person on the team for any new development in the person’s care that will help them in their personal expertise.
Starting off right
Before a plan is created, the therapist will evaluate the patient and see where his needs lie. Then she’ll spell out the therapy goals and develop a plan to reach them. She’ll break it down into steps so they can conquer them one by one and see success. She’ll build a rapport with him and work with family members as well so they can see what’s going on and be a part of the process.
Giving each patient what he needs
Depending on the severity of the problem and how long the patient has been in rehab, he might get daily speech therapy sessions or only a few times a week. As progress increases, he may have fewer sessions. The speech therapist will also work with outpatient programs for patients who are doing much better and are able to go home, but still need some support for full recovery.
Examples of why there is inpatient rehab
There are some examples of what patients might be dealing with in inpatient rehab that require the services of a speech language pathologist:
Apraxia – apraxia of speech is a disorder where the patient has trouble translating the thoughts and intentions he has into the motor abilities associated with speech. So he might want to say something, but not be able to form the movements in his mouth to say those things.
Aphasia – the ability of the patient to comprehend language and communicate using language.
Dysarthria – when a patient speaks unclearly or unintelligibly words that otherwise make sense.
Dysphagia – when a patient has difficulty swallowing.
While these conditions are all different, they are all related to speech and mouth movements and are treated in inpatient rehab. The Alameda Center, for example, has trained and experienced speech therapists who can help patients with all of these issues as well as others. The speech therapist develops a customized plan to address the particular problems of each patient.