Speech Therapy Helps Adults

Speech therapists are widely known for helping children “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, director of speech pathology, UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center, discusses speech therapy and how patients can benefit from treatment.

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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.

“Speech therapy is the assessment and treatment of various communication and cognitive problems,” Goldaine tells WPXI.

Q: What Causes Speech, Language, Cognitive, 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. We also have noticed cognitive issues with people who have contracted COVID-19.

Q: What Do You Treat in Speech Therapy?

A: At UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, 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 Rehabilitation Institute or call 1-888-723-4277.


Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.