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What Are the Different Types of Adult Speech Therapy?

L. Baran
L. Baran

Although speech therapy is most commonly associated with children who have speech delays, it also is used to treat adults who have certain medical or communication disorders. Adult speech therapy techniques differ depending on the type of issue and its cause. The different types of adult speech therapy include voice therapy for vocal cord damage, swallowing therapy and eating therapy. Other types of treatment are communication and articulation therapy.

Voice therapy for vocal cord damage is used when the vocal cords have been damaged because of paralysis, cancer, polyps or cysts. This type of speech therapy uses exercises to encourage the patient to control his or her breath, loudness and pitch. It focuses on the coordination of breathing with sound production. In addition, voice therapy teaches patients to control lifestyle elements that might affect their speech, such as eliminating smoking, drinking enough water and avoiding excessive throat clearing.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

Swallowing and feeding speech therapy is typically used after the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, stroke or cancer. It is used to address a problem known as dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. Speech therapists use liquids of varying thicknesses, straws and swallowing exercises to help patients eat and drink efficiently. The use of electrical stimulation to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing might also be indicated for some patients.

Communication therapy helps patients who have injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or strokes. It helps these patients learn to communicate using the strengths that they have while compensating for weaknesses caused by the injury or disorder. For example, in this type of adult speech therapy, a man who has experienced a severe stroke might learn to use a communication board with picture icons to express his needs. Communication does not have to be via the spoken word if the neurological or physical impairment that is preventing speech is severe.

Articulation therapy works to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and control the movement of the tongue and lips. It is designed to help patients who have difficulty pronouncing words or parts of words correctly. The goal of articulation therapy is to make speech more clear. This type of therapy uses repetition, therapist correction and the process of breaking down words into their component parts until each sound can be produced accurately.

Therapy sessions can take place in outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers and hospitals. It might even be available in a patient's home. Many treatments are covered by medical insurance. Adult speech therapy addresses a variety of disorders and can help patients regain one of life's most crucial skills — the ability to communicate.

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      Doctor taking notes