Adults may also need the help of a speech therapist

Marine Lillemets

Most of us know that a speech therapist is a specialist who helps children with speech problems to learn to speak better. In fact, in addition to children, speech therapists also help adults with various health problems and deal with swallowing disorders in addition to speech disorders. Marine Lillemets, a speech therapist at Confido Medical Center, explains when an adult speech therapist may need help.

“People of all ages may need the help of a speech therapist. While in children the focus is on developing speech comprehension and creativity, in adults the emphasis is often on restoring lost skills or maintaining speech. In the case of children, therapy must be based primarily on their level of development, but adults must also take into account the patient’s profession and habits, ”Lillemets explained.

Adults who usually have a speech or swallowing disorder as a result of an illness usually come to see a speech therapist. “Diseases that often cause speech and swallowing problems include stroke, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as cognitive impairment. For example, up to 89% of patients with Parkinson’s disease have a speech disorder, and stroke is also one of the most common symptoms of a speech disorder. Up to 45% of stroke patients have difficulty swallowing. Recently, speech therapists working in the medical system have increasingly had to deal with COVID patients who have swallowing disorders, among other complications, “said Lillemets.

However, an adult does not have to suffer from a serious illness to go to a speech therapist – people whose daily lives are disturbed by a pronunciation problem, voice disorder or experience may also need help. “Patients with voice disorders often include teachers, coaches, singers and actors whose daily work requires intensive use of voice. Excessive or incorrect voice usage, which can be prevented and mitigated by the right voice, can cause alarm. Experience is a disorder of speech fluency that can start in childhood, but can also occur in adulthood, for example as a result of trauma, ”explained the speech therapist.

The purpose and activities of the therapy depend on the needs of the patient

The purpose of therapy depends on what is causing the patient the problem. “Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, the speech therapist must decide whether the goal is to correct, restore, maintain speech, or to assess changes in speech. Counseling of the patient and, if necessary, relatives is always included. In the case of speech disorders caused by a stroke, the emphasis is on restoring speech ability, and in Parkinson’s disease, the emphasis is on improving speech intelligibility and maintaining speech function. Sometimes it may be the task of a speech therapist to help the patient find suitable alternative means of communication when it is no longer possible to speak due to a serious illness, “commented Lillemets.

Therapy techniques depend on the nature of the patient’s problems – speech disorders can be very varied. If there is a problem with the motor skills of the speech, the voice, pronunciation, intonation or the tempo of the speech may be impaired. Impairment of speech-related brain regions can also impair language skills, for example, a person may have difficulty pronouncing the desired words or forming a statement that is understandable to the listener, but sometimes the ability to understand speech may be impaired. “Speech therapists can help with such problems. Depending on the cause, manifestation and severity of the problem, we choose the method and techniques of therapy that are suitable for a particular patient, ”commented Lillemets.

Treating speech or swallowing disorders is a long process that requires motivation, good collaboration between the therapist and the patient, and regular exercise. “Patients with speech disorders need to do special exercises prescribed by a speech therapist. Speech problems can usually not be solved with a few receptions in the speech therapist’s office, but they also need regular and long-term work at home, “said Lillemets.

Source: Lääne Elu by

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