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Integrative Therapies

Speech Therapy:
For Swallowing and Speech Problems

Trouble Swallowing or SpeakingSpeech Therapy - Swallowing Problems

Do you notice that you or someone you love:

  • Coughs or clears his or her throat often during meal times?
  • Has a “wet” sounding voice or gurgling sounds while speaking?
  • Has trouble communicating due to a stroke or other condition?
  • Is losing weight because eating is so difficult?
  • Has a history of aspiration pneumonia?

These are a few of the signs that a person may benefit from speech therapy.

Who Can Speech Therapy Help?

Speech therapists can help people who are having trouble with swallowing or speaking. The problem may be due to any of a number of conditions, including:

  • StrokeSpeech Therapy - Coughing
  • Parkinson’s
  • Dementia
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Bell’s Palsy or acoustic neuroma
  • Radiation damage
  • Laryngectomy
  • Head injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Generalized weakness after illness

Training to Swallow?

Aspiration pneumonia is when food or liquids are accidentally breathed into the lungs, causing an infection. Pneumonia is a serious illness that can sometimes cause death.

Someone who coughs and sputters or often clears their throat during or after meals may be inhaling small amounts of food or fluid into the airway.

Speech therapists can assess for this condition and advise patients and families about foods, fluids and eating techniques that will minimize the risk of aspiration.

Improved Communication

Speech therapy teaches practical tips, physical strengthening exercises, repetitive practice and other strategies to improve articulation, tone, rate and intensity of the voice.

A stroke or other condition can make speech difficult to understand, or it may make it difficult for the speaker to understand others. Speech therapy can identify ways to facilitate communication.

Memory Techniques

When memory has been impaired by disease or head injury, speech therapists can help patients learn new skills for organizing and remembering.

Improved Quality of LifeQuality of Life

Speech therapy can improve quality of life for those with swallowing and speech problems. It can:

  • Decrease the risk of aspiration pneumonia
  • Decrease frustration and anxiety
  • Improve communication
  • Return patients to a higher level of functioning

Getting Started

If you or a loved one has any of the problems we’ve described here, and think speech therapy might help, talk to your doctor. Speech therapy is available in an outpatient setting, or through home health. You may qualify for speech therapy in your home if you are mostly homebound and going out requires a great effort.

Pathways has highly trained speech therapists who can evaluate swallowing and communication problems and provide treatment as needed.

Who Pays for Speech Therapy?

Medicare and senior HMOs are among the health insurance plans that cover speech therapy when indicated.

Contact us today for a free informational visit. We are here to help.

  • 1.888.755.7855 (toll free) - 408.730.5900 (tel) - 408.730.8722 (fax)

We hope that you find our other Educational Resource pages helpful.

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Caregiver Support - Instructional Materials

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