What are Speech Therapy Programs?

Summer Banks
Summer Banks

Speech therapy programs are those designed to treat physical disorders interfering with communication and swallowing. While some of the physical conditions treated with speech therapy programs may be associated with congenital defects, others are a result of other illnesses or medical events. Speech problems can be caused by conditions including stroke, spinal injury, head injury, and neuromuscular disease progression.

There are usually four stages of treatment used by speech therapy programs. This treatment is the same no matter the cause of the speech or swallowing disorder. The stages are evaluation, information, therapy, and auxiliary device usage.

During the evaluation stage, the speech therapy programs typically use standardized and personal testing to gauge the severity of the speech condition. The evaluation period is often when the cause of the speech disorder or problem is also revealed. The evaluation stage is important to the future therapy as a plan of treatment will be based on the results of the evaluation.

The information stage of the speech therapy programs is when the family members are educated on the speech disorder. They may also be given tools to help the treatment at home. Support for the family and the patient is also a part of this stage.

The therapy portion of the treatment is the most active, and often the longest stage of the speech therapy programs. Depending on the severity of the speech condition, the patient will undergo various exercises, games, and activities designed to treat the speech defect. If the speech defect is associated with a physical illness or event, the exercises may not be able to reverse the problem completely, but should improve the patient's ability to communicate more effectively over time.

In some cases, the speech therapy programs will be aided with auxiliary devices. These devices may include, but are not limited to, artificial voice boxes. The use of an auxiliary device is often reserved for conditions that do not respond to traditional treatment or those severe enough to require them. Some patients will be fitted with auxiliary devices after the evaluation stage of treatment, while others will undergo therapy before the need for the auxiliary device is realized.

While speech therapy programs often focus on communication, swallowing disorders are also treated. Stroke patients and patients with spinal or head injuries can often suffer from both speech and swallowing problems. The speech therapy programs will work with the patient to adapt to the swallowing problem or treat it as needed.

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