It’s ironic that many people outside of health care don’t fully understand speech-language pathology—a profession devoted to helping improve communication. The Speech Therapy team at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center plays an important role in enhancing the quality of life for individuals facing a variety of medical challenges. Applying their expertise in communication disorders and swallowing difficulties, these speech-language pathologists (SLPs) assess, diagnose, and treat individuals. Their goal? To improve communication skills and functional abilities, sometimes helping people re-learn skills they thought were lost forever.

This often means assisting older adults recovering from serious medical events, facing progressive conditions, or dealing with age-related issues. Some of those include:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s disease/dementia
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • COVID-19
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Voice disorders

Dysphagia
Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder associated with many of these conditions. People with dysphagia find it difficult to chew and swallow, which can lead to dehydration, malnutrition or food and liquids going into the airway (aspiration) and causing pneumonia. How a Yavapai Regional speech-language pathologist treats dysphagia depends on the medical condition causing the swallowing disorder. Individual treatment plans may include:

  • dietary changes
  • swallowing exercises to strengthen muscles
  • alternative swallowing strategies
  • posture changes to use when eating

Aphasia
Aphasia is a disorder that makes it difficult for people to speak, comprehend, read, write, or use numbers. This condition is often the result of a stroke or brain injury. People with aphasia struggle to find the words they want to use and also find it difficult to understand what others are saying. There are nine types of aphasia that Yavapai Regional SLPs are experts at diagnosing. They create individualized treatment plans to address each patient’s aphasia.

Apraxia
While aphasia relates to a person’s ability to understand or use words, apraxia is a motor-speech disorder that affects the lips, tongue, and palate. People with apraxia may seem to be groping for their words. It also impacts the clarity and consistency of their speech.

What else is in the SLP wheelhouse?
Yavapai Regional’s speech-language pathologists are skilled at treating many other conditions, including:

  • Voice disorders – Changes to how a person’s voice sounds, including their pitch, volume, or quality.
  • Dysarthria – Weakness or tightness of the speech muscles, which causes slurred, quiet, or harsh-sounding speech.
  • Cognitive communication disorders – These disorders are often related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Our SLPs work with both the patient and their family members.

Yavapai Regional’s SLPs assist hospitalized patients at both YRMC West in Prescott and YRMC East in Prescott Valley. Team members also work with patients at the Outpatient Services Building West, on the campus of Yavapai Regional West.

To learn more about how our Speech Therapy team can help you or someone you care about, ask your primary care physician or contact Physical Rehabilitation Services at (928) 771-5131.