People with normal communication and swallowing skills may lose some of those abilities as a result of stroke, head injury, head and neck cancer or severe or long-term illness. Problems can also result from diseases that affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
What are the types of communication and swallowing disorders?
Acquired Neurologic Disorders -Changes in communication and swallowing abilities as a result of stroke, brain trauma, or a variety of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's.
Aphasia- A loss of the ability to comprehend or express thoughts using language. This results from damage to portions of the brain that help us to use language to communicate, often a stroke in the left side of the brain. These language impairments involve the loss of skill in the recall of words or the formulation of sentences to express or comprehend speech, the printed word, or even sign language.
Dysarthria- A speech disorder resulting from weakness, slowness, or poor coordination of speech. Dysarthria may involve some or all of the basic speech processes such as the accuracy of pronunciation, the control of breathing, the pitch, loudness and quality of the voice, and oral versus nasal projection of the voice.
Apraxia of speech- A loss of the ability to make the voice, lips, and tongue work together in the coordinated way that is necessary for talking.
Difficulty controlling the swallowing of food and liquids as they pass through the mouth and throat into the esophagus. Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition, such as:
gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – where stomach acid leaks back up into the oesophagus
A Speech Language Pathologist works with the client to preventing further degeneration of memory, strategies to improve coherent speech for communication, strengthening oral-facial muscles, or introducing aided communication plans. Management of swallowing includes compensatory strategies to improve control over swallowing to prevent aspiration along with direct treatment techniques such as exercises to improve overall range of motion and strength of oral muscles.