Speech Therapy


Have you ever heard of speech therapy? Isn’t that just for people “who can’t talk right”? No, speech therapy is more complex than you realize! The field of speech-language pathology (also known as speech therapy) is made up of nine domains with the most common being: speech, expressive/receptive language, swallowing, and cognition. Speech therapy is one of the therapeutic services provided by Liberty Healthcare Rehabilitation Services for our residents in independent, assisted, and skilled living settings. 

Who provides speech therapy? 

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained experts in communication sciences and disorders. SLPs are required to earn graduate degrees, complete 400 clinical hours, pass a national exam, complete a clinical fellowship year, and be certified at state and national levels. A SLP is trained to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat communication and swallowing disorders. SLPs are trained to provide therapy services for the full range of human communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, including those in our aging adult population.

How do I know if I need speech therapy?

As we age, our brains change. This can affect the way that we communicate, swallow, and think. SLPs are part of the interdisciplinary medical team that are involved in the care of the aging population. If you go to the hospital for a stroke or a broken hip, you may be recommended for speech therapy. What? How does breaking my hip mean I might need speech therapy? 

Speech therapy also addresses memory, safety, thought organization (planning), and sequencing tasks. If you now require a walker after surgery, but have never used one before, it may be beneficial for a SLP to help assist you in adjusting to safely using one. 

SLPs are also commonly involved in the care of individuals with a variety of diagnoses including dementia, mild cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke injuries, cancer, and COVID-19.  

Swallowing disorders are often present in the populations listed above, and speech-language pathologists are trained to address and manage swallowing disorders. The medical term for difficulty swallowing is dysphagia. Dysphagia can occur when there are deficits in the ability to feel food or liquids, the ability to move your mouth, or coordinate movement of muscles in your throat, in any of the phases of swallowing (oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, or esophageal). Swallowing problems can cause dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, and even pneumonia.

What are some red flags? When should I seek out a referral for me or my loved one?

Red Flags for Swallowing Disorders:

  • Unintentional and unexplained weight loss
  • Prolonged chewing and swallowing
  • Fatigue when eating
  • Painful swallowing or feeling that food liquid “gets stuck”
  • Coughing or choking on liquids / “getting strangled”
  • Coughing or choking on solids
  • Recurrent chest infection or pneumonia
  • Heartburn or acid reflux

Red Flags for Cognitive, Speech, and Language Disorders:

  • Becoming short of breath when speaking
  • Reduced ability to communicate wants and needs
  • Difficulty pronouncing speech sounds
  • Reduced language and speech skills due to a neurologic event such as a stroke
  • Difficulty in remembering appointments and taking medicine
  • Reduced confidence in verbal abilities and engaging in social conversation

If you are concerned at all about any of the red flags listed above for you or a family member, talk to your doctor about a referral to the speech-language pathologist. Early intervention can help!

At Liberty Healthcare Rehabilitation Services, our speech-language pathologists are key members of the rehabilitation team designed to provide a positive rehabilitation experience for patients and their loved ones. They are involved with the interdisciplinary care model. Contact us today to learn more about our speech therapy and other services.