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Speech therapy gives hope to those who have lost the ability to speak

Speech is one of the most important tools we use to communicate with others. For people who have lost their ability to speak, the recovery process can be isolating and even depressing. Fortunately, speech therapy helps many patients find their voice again. “Patients come here from all walks of life, with different challenges and needs,” says Hayley Crawford, a speech pathologist at Piedmont Fayette Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation & Fitness Center.

Piedmont Rehabilitation offers speech and language assessments utilizing the latest technology and standardized testing to evaluate a patient’s unique challenges. The speech-language pathology staff treats patients with communication, swallowing and cognitive disorders, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Brain injuries
  • Voice disorders
  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease

The emotional impact of speech disorders

Crawford says her patients experience an array of emotions – from frustration to depression – while working to regain their speech, especially when they cannot communicate what they want to say.

“They later describe it as being trapped in their own heads,” she says. “They know what they want to say, but they can’t get it out. It’s upsetting.”

“When patients come here, they need us to be patient with them when they’re trying to express their needs and get better,” says Crawford. “They need compassion and to know that we care and that we’re here to try to help them.”

What to expect in speech therapy

Crawford says patients should expect to attend multiple speech therapy sessions and have a program tailored to their individual needs.

“We develop a relationship with our patients,” she says. “Every case is different, so we have to spend the time to individualize therapy for the challenges and impairments they are experiencing."

Patients first come in for an evaluation, where a speech pathologist will develop a treatment plan. In subsequent sessions, the therapist will determine how often and how long he or she will need to meet with that patient. Some patients come to therapy once or twice a week, while others meet with her five days a week.

Crawford says her job is rewarding, especially as she develops a bond with her patients and sees them meet their goals, like returning to work or interacting with their family again.

Speech disorders affect “not just the patient, but everyone involved in their life,” she says. “When people are able to say things that they couldn’t before, we both get excited. When people are able to go back to work or whatever their initial goal was, if we can reach that, that’s the best part.”

For more information on speech-language pathology, visit Piedmont Rehabilitation.

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