An adult woman receiving speech therapy

Not Just For Kids: How Speech Therapy Helps Adults

Speech therapists are widely known for helping youngsters “learn to talk.” But many people don’t realize that speech-language pathologists (SLPs) also work with adults to help them communicate, think, and safely eat and drink.

John Goldaine, SLP and director of speech pathology at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services at UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center discusses speech therapy and how patients can benefit from treatment.

Q: What is speech therapy?

A: Speech therapy involves the evaluation and treatment of people who have trouble with speech, language, cognitive function (such as problems that affect a person’s learning, memory, perception, or problem solving skills), as well as swallowing disorders.

RELATED: Don’t Lose Your Voice: Common Problems and Treatments

Q: What causes speech and swallowing problems in adults?

A: Adults can develop these problems if they have a stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion, or a neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) or multiple sclerosis.

Q: What do you treat in speech therapy?

A: At the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, our licensed speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat a number of different speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders. For example, if a patient has slurred speech due to a stroke, head injury, or neurological disease, we can help improve speech sound production. We can also help patients deal with language issues, such as trouble finding the right words or difficulty forming complete statements. In addition, we work with patients with cognitive difficulties, including problems with short-term memory, organization, and planning.

Q. What is the process?

A: Our speech therapy programs are tailored to the individual needs of each patient.

We identify areas for improvement and work with the patient to develop goals and an appropriate plan of care. We also teach techniques and strategies to improve communication. As therapy continues, we regularly review and modify these goals according to the patient’s progress. We also take steps to communicate frequently with a patient’s doctor about treatment.

To learn more about speech therapy, visit UPMC Centers for Rehab Services or call 1-888-723-4CRS (4277).

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