Regional to host meetings on speech

Published 10:51 am Monday, May 7, 2007

Since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has celebrated Better Hearing and Speech Month each May to raise public awareness of speech and language disorders that affect 14 million Americans.

Speech and language disorders can take many forms and can limit academic achievement, social adjustment and career advancement. An individual may be born with a speech or language disorder, or it may be caused by accidental injury or illness.

Fortunately, most people with speech and language problems can be helped. Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, qualified speech-language pathologists can teach people with speech and language problems strategies to help them cope. People may not fully regain their capacity to speak and understand, but a speech-language pathologist can help them live more independently.

Email newsletter signup

Speech-language pathologists are the professionals who treat all types of speech, language and related disorders. They hold at least a master’s degree and are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In Mississippi and Louisiana, they are also licensed by the state. Speech-language pathologists work in schools, private practice, hospitals, clinics and other health and education settings. At Natchez Regional Medical Center, we offer speech-language pathology services in the acute care setting, as part of the inpatient rehabilitation facility (fifth floor rehab), and in the outpatient clinic.

In addition to speech and language disorders, qualified speech-language pathologists also treat dysphagia or swallowing disorders, specifically those caused by physiological abnormalities in the oral and pharyngeal musculature. These may result from strokes, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease or multiple sclerosis, head injury, head and neck cancer, dementia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The role of the speech-language pathologist in dysphagia includes evaluation, both clinical and instrumental, direct neuromuscular training, teaching of compensatory strategies including modifying diet textures, postural strategies and techniques to facilitate a more efficient, safe swallow. Dysphagia can result in aspiration with an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia and/or inefficient swallow with an increased risk of reduced nutrition.

During the month of May, Natchez Regional Medical Center will host two community education opportunities on dysphagia. Thursday, I will present “Dysphagia Concerns and Treatment Options” to the regularly scheduled Alzheimer’s Support Group. On May 24, I will present a general discussion of dysphagia including evaluation and treatment to all interested persons. If you have questions or to register for the May 24 “Much Ado About Swallowing” to be at 5:30 p.m. in the Magnolia Room, Natchez Regional Medical Center, please call me at 601-443-2550.

Pat Jonaitis is a speech-language pathologist at Natchez Regional Medical Center.