Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the language center of the brain. People with aphasia may have difficulty communicating and/or understanding language. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke. Dysarthria or apraxia sometimes accompany aphasia. A speech language pathologist diagnoses and provides therapy for aphasia. Therapy focuses on helping you regain independence and the ability to communicate.
Vernon Memorial Healthcare offers an Aphasia Support Group which is open to individuals who have aphasia and/or family members of individuals with aphasia. There is no cost involved. Please call the Speech and Swallowing Department at (608) 637-4393 for more information or to enroll.
Dysphagia refers to difficulty or inability to swallow foods or liquids. Dysphagia has many different causes. Any condition that weakens or disables muscles or nerves can cause dysphagia. Cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral vascular accident are examples of conditions that can cause dysphagia. If you have difficulty swallowing, notice yourself coughing or choking when eating or drinking, or have the sensation of something being "stuck" when you swallow, contact a speech language pathologist for help. You may be asked to participate in a Clinical Swallow Evaluation or a procedure done in the Imaging Department called a Modified Barium Swallow Study.
Oral and pharyngeal exercises and compensatory swallowing strategies may be recommended by the speech language pathologist. A diet consistency change may also be recommended for you or your family member who has difficulty swallowing.
Stuttering is a disorder that frequently affects the fluency of speech. Occasional disfluencies are normal and experienced by all speakers. Many young children go through a normal develop mental stage of stuttering. The cause of stuttering is unknown. A person who stutters cannot “help” that they stutter. It is a disorder just like an allergy or asthma. A person who stutters will always be a person who stutters. However, the person who stutters may seek the help of a speech language pathologist to learn techniques to decrease stuttering and improve self-image and confidence. If you or your child stutters, contact the speech language pathologist for consultation.
Childhood Speech and Language
Many parents are concerned about their child’s acquisition of sounds. Children learn to produce some sounds before others. If you are concerned about your child’s language or speech development, talk to a speech language pathologist. A speech language pathologist evaluates your child and provides speech and/or language therapy. A speech language pathologist can also provide tools to help facilitate a child’s development of speech and language.
Apraxia is a speech disorder of the nervous system. A person with apraxia knows what they want to say, but when they try to say it their brain cannot correctly coordinate the muscles of the mouth and face. The muscles themselves are intact but the communication between the brain and muscles is impaired. A speech language pathologist provides therapy for a person with apraxia.
Dysarthria occurs when the muscles of the face, mouth, and respiratory system become weak as a result of a stroke or brain injury. The weakness may make talking and eating difficult. A speech language pathologist provides therapy to help strengthen these muscles. Therapy may improve the ability to speak and eat.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Some people have difficulty communicating verbally. Inability or difficulty using verbalizations to communicate may result in frustration and a decreased quality of life. Low and high tech augmentative and alternative communication devices are available to meet the needs of people who struggle to communicate verbally. A speech language pathologist can provide evaluation and therapy to determine an appropriate augmentative and alternative communication device and help an individual learn to effectively communicate using the device.
Voice disorders can involve a range of etiologies and symptoms that make it difficult for a person to use his or her voice effectively. Some symptoms of a voice disorder may include chronic breathiness, hoarseness, or decreased loudness levels. A speech language pathologist is able to evaluate and treat voice disorders.