SOMC Rehab Helps Break Communication Barriers

Imagine you need to yell for help, but the words won’t come out of your mouth.

Communication barriers may result from conditions such as stroke, brain injury, or disease. Patients may have trouble expressing thoughts or cannot find the right words to say. They may not be able to understand verbal or written language, reason and judge, or solve problems.

“About 10 percent of the American population has a communication disorder,” Kevin Stimpert, executive director of Rehabilitation Services, said.

“In addition to medicine and surgery, the effects of communication disorders on individuals can be minimized through rehabilitation and education. Speech and hearing specialists help individuals untangle the twisted messages that limit their ability to comprehend or express thoughts. We also help them learn new ways to produce speech, and regain the ability to put words together.”

In May, SOMC observes Better Hearing and Speech Month and acknowledges speech pathologists, audiologists and other professionals who work with people with communication challenges. Therapists at SOMC include Jody Cooper, SLP; LuAnn Lashley, SLP; Stephanie Willis, SLP; Ginger Wright, SLP, and Kristie Thacker, AUD.

“Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), in particular, have the challenging job of helping people recover competence in communication,” Stimpert explained. “SLPs assess and treat all types of communication disorders, as well as swallowing disorders, and give patients and families the tools to overcome these difficulties.”

Stimpert said SLPs help patients use remaining skills and, when necessary, learn alternative communication.

“We often forget that we not only communicate by speaking, but also by gesturing, writing, drawing, reading, and our facial expressions. Speech therapists also evaluate a patient’s ability to solve problems he or she might encounter after returning home.”

Many patients with conditions such as stroke, brain injury, or Parkinson’s disease have swallowing disorders. The speech therapist evaluates the patient’s feeding and swallowing to provide effective treatment, which may be as simple as altering a person’s head or body position during swallowing or coughing or eliminating certain food textures. Other individuals may need to learn new ways to swallow.

For additional information on services at SOMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, call Brett Lacey at (740) 356-7438.