Speech therapy (ST) is designed to help people with conditions that affect their speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency and other related disorders. This can include, but is not limited to:
* brain injury
* Alzheimer's or dementia
* developmental delays or disorders
* cerebral palsy
* cleft palate
* hearing loss
A speech therapist is also referred to as a speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists help patients develop, or recover, reliable communication and swallowing skills.
Patients suffering from emotional problems and mental retardation may also benefit from ST. Patients with swallowing problems brought on by disease, such as cancer are often referred for speech therapy as well.
Speech-language pathologists use things such as standardized tests, as well as special instruments, to analyze and diagnose the nature and extent of a patient's speech, language and swallowing issues. They then develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each patient's needs. For individuals with little or no speech capability, speech-language pathologists may select alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language, and teach the patient how to use them. They teach these patients how to make sounds, improve their voices or increase their oral or written language skills to communicate more effectively. They also teach individuals how to strengthen muscles or use other methods to swallow without choking or inhaling food or liquid.
A speech therapist will also work with a patent's family to help them understand, not only the patient's condition, but also how to cope with any stress and misunderstandings that may surface. They also work with family members to recognize and change behavior patterns that impede communication and treatment and show them communication-enhancing techniques to use at home.