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What Is Speech Therapy at Encompass Health?

Speech therapy is the practice of improving the function of mechanisms above the base of the neck. At Encompass Health, this process involves a series of activities that help patients recover and fine-tune communication skills such as word finding, word production, memory and sentence formation in addition to swallowing problems. 

Many ailments can result in a need for speech therapy. Patients recovering from brain injury may experience cognitive damage that affects speech and memory, while those recovering from stroke can struggle with physical weakness in the tongue and throat muscles that make it difficult to swallow and control breathing. The extent of these complications varies by individual.

Speech therapy exercises range from simple to complex
Speech therapy regimens are unique to a patient’s abilities. To improve communication, activities often include the use of matching games and picture cards, repetitive counting, song singing and exercises using a diary, journal, newspaper or other material that may stimulate vocal recollection. 

Activities during speech therapy could include holding objects and identifying them or flipping through a photo album and having the patient try to name familiar faces, as the speech therapist documents their vocal cadence, pitch and any stuttering or memory obstacles.

Speech therapists often work with dietitians to modify the diets of those patients with swallowing issues, ensuring they have access to chopped or pureed meals and snacks during recovery if necessary.

How speech therapy differs from other rehabilitation specialties
Encompass Health’s interdisciplinary approach to care means that patients often receive a variety of therapy. Physical therapists begin by helping patients regain their strength and improve balance, coordination and mobility. Occupational therapists help individuals independently perform tasks such as cooking and bathing. For patients with communication issues and swallowing disorders, speech therapists step in to work specifically on the muscle strength necessary for speech and swallowing.

Innovative technologies make recovery possible 
Use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation tools can help relieve patients of the emotional, physical and financial burdens of feeding tubes, which is why some Encompass Health hospitals are equipped to help patients improve swallowing using virtual reality. Biofeedback systems measure the strength of the throat muscles and allow patients to view their swallowing motion on a computer screen. Much like a video game, patients complete interactive activities in order to generate objective feedback. These engaging visualizations empower speech therapists to help patients recover these skills.

For more information about Encompass Health Harmarville, call (877) 937-7342 or visit www.encompasshealth.com/harmarvillerehab

For more information about Encompass Health Sewickley, call (412) 749-2396 or visit www.encompasshealth.com/sewickleyrehab

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