Speech-language pathologists – also called speech therapists – are educated, skilled and licensed healthcare professionals. They’re also sometimes overlooked by people unaware of the important role these professionals play in health and healing.
“Our profession focuses on helping people of all ages – newborn to senior – address health issues from the neck up,” said Lorrie Nebrig, MA, CCC-LP, Speech-Language Pathologist at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “Our work is both diagnostic – in that we help physicians pinpoint the patient’s health problem – and therapeutic because we also recommend and undertake treatments for the condition.”
In May, speech-language pathologists nationwide celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month. YRMC’s speech-language pathologists have banded together to build awareness of how people can benefit from speech therapy.
How can a speech-language pathologist help you or someone you care about? The answer to that question falls into four categories:
- Communication – In adults, finding words during conversations and formulating their thoughts are communication issues that can improve with the help of a speech-language pathologist.
“Delayed speech is a common communication issue for children,” said Kelly Smith, MA, CCC-LP, Speech-Language Pathologist at YRMC. “We have play-based therapy sessions to help these children. We also work with the child’s parents so they can build their child’s language skills at home.”
- Cognition – People with cognitive disorders due to stroke, traumatic brain injury or dementia may have difficulties organizing their thoughts, focusing, remembering, planning and problem solving.
“Memory is not a passive process,” said Jill Wingard, MA, CCC-LP, Speech-Language Pathologist at YRMC. “There’s lots going on in our brains to help us remember. We help the patient tap into all of this.”
- Swallowing – A swallowing disorder called dysphagia (pronounced dis-FAY-juh) is the most common condition addressed by YRMC’s speech-language pathologists.
“We work with people of all ages and with all kinds of conditions to strengthen the swallowing function,” Nebrig explained.
Heart problems, stroke, respiratory conditions and more can weaken the swallowing function.
“Our goal is to ensure people are safe and not aspirating into the airway,” said Smith.
Infants born early also may need swallowing therapy, which YRMC’s speech-language pathologists provide at the Family Birthing Center at YRMC East. Older youngsters diagnosed with chronic reflux, enlarged adenoids and other health issues undergo swallowing therapy at Outpatient Pediatric Services at YRMC East and YRMC West.
- Voice – Ongoing laryngitis, a paralyzed vocal cord and Parkinson’s disease are examples of conditions that impact the quality of an individual’s voice.
“We look at all of the characteristics that go into creating a good, solid, clear voice,” Nebrig said. “Once we’ve gathered this information, we structure a therapy program to address each patient’s specific needs.”
Think you could benefit from the help of a YRMC speech-language pathologist? Talk to your physician or contact YRMC’s Speech Therapy Department conveniently located in Physical Rehabilitation Services at the:
YRMC Wellness Center
930 Division Street
Prescott, Arizona 86301
YRMC Del E. Webb Outpatient Center
3262 North Windsong Drive
Prescott Valley, Arizona 86314