Feeding and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia)
Stroke, injuries, oral or laryngeal cancers, and some progressive disorders such as ALS or Parkinson’s can lead to difficulty eating and swallowing. This can include difficulty chewing food, reduced oral sensation, difficulty managing saliva, coughing and choking, aspiration pneumonia, or even the need for a feeding tube.
Rehabilitation can include individualized exercise programs to target the swallowing muscles and improve swallowing safety and efficiency. We can also provide education of individualized compensatory strategies to improve safety and quality of life. We are also happy to be able to provide an evidence-based treatment program which utilizes therapeutic neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to re-educate the swallowing muscles in conjunction with traditional exercises. NMES is a non-invasive external electrical stimulation therapy system for the treatment of dysphagia in which electrodes are attached to the skin on the throat in order to provide small, electrical impulses to the swallowing muscles in order to increase the effectiveness of swallowing exercises. Click here for more information.
Communication Options (AAC/Assistive Technology)
Some progressive diseases such as ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease) can result in the loss of verbal speech. Sometimes strokes or other forms of brain injury can also result in temporary or permanent loss of voice and speech skills which allow a person to functionally communicate. There are numerous high and low tech alternative communication options available to ensure continued communication despite physical impairments or to supplement reduced verbal speech. Socially Sound Therapy Solutions can help determine which option is right for you and provide training and programming.
In all cases, the sooner therapy is initiated, the better the outcomes. It is the most beneficial to seek out a speech-language pathologist during these early stages of progressive conditions, such as ALS, while the voice is still functional and when voice banking or message banking are still options. Voice banking involves recording a large sample of a person’s speech that is then analyzed with a special software to create a synthetic voice that then mimics the person’s natural speaking voice. This synthetic voice can then be used with various communication devices and apps for a more natural sounding voice, instead of computer-sounded voice. Message banking is another option which involves recording words, phrases, sentences, or stories in the individuals natural speaking voice to then be programmed into communication software which the individual can then use to express themselves in their own words. Click here for more information.
Stroke, dementia, post-concussion syndrome, and other traumatic brain injuries can lead to difficulty in areas such: attention, short and long term memory, problem solving, orientation, safety awareness, and other executive functioning skills (planning, sequencing, thought organization, etc). Therapy can include cognitive rehabilitation or retraining to improve affected areas, or in cases where cognition is deteriorating and actual improvements may no longer be possible (such as in dementia), therapy might include training in the use of compensatory strategies to help patients maintain their current skills for longer and to accommodate as they progress through the stages of cognitive decline. Click here for more information.
Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language (typically in the left half of the brain) and may cause difficulties in an individual's ability to speak, understand, read, and write, but does not affect intelligence. Customized speech-language therapy is available to target specific areas of concern based on the type of aphasia and severity. Click here for more information.
Voice rehabilitation can address impairments with vocal loudness, pitch, and quality through treatment techniques including vocal exercises to achieve better vocal fold closure, exercises and strategies to reduce muscle tension, respiration training for adequate breathe support needed for speech, and education in ways to reduce harmful vocal behaviors. Treatment is available for a variety of vocal fold pathologies such as: incomplete vocal fold closure or bowing, vocal nodules, vocal fold paralysis, or dysphonia (hoarseness, breathiness, raspiness, etc). Click here for more information.
Motor Speech Disorders (Dysarthria or Apraxia of Speech)
Neurological damage from a stroke, brain injury, brain tumors, or other condition that affect the brain can cause impaired movement or weakness of the muscles involved in speech production which results in speech that can be slow, slurred, imprecise, and difficult to understand. Click here for more information on Dysarthria or here for Apraxia of Speech.