Speech Therapy

Northwood Deaconess Health Center Rehab Department contracts with Big Stone Therapies and Sanford Health for Speech Therapy Services.

Speech language pathologists screen, evaluate, and treat a variety of practice areas to optimize communication and swallowing to facilitate improved quality of life. We provide outpatient services 5 days per week.

What can a speech language pathologist do?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children, adolescents, and adults. Practice areas include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Fluency – Fluency is the aspect of speech production that refers to continuity, smoothness, rate, and effort. Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by repetitions, sound prolongations, blocks, interjections, and revisions, which may affect the rate and rhythm of speech. Stuttering can affect both children and adults and can interfere with school, work, and social interactions.

  • Speech Production – An articulation disorder is the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility. Apraxia is a disorder of the nervous system which affects the ability to sequence and say sounds, syllables and words. The person knows what he/she wants to say, but is unable to follow through to to produce desired target. Dysarthria occurs when the area in the brain that controls speech production is damaged, causing the muscles that are used to become weak. The person might have difficulty coordinating their lips, tongue, palate, jaw and facial muscles to produce speech. Their speech might sound slurred, breathy or jerky. A phonological disorder affects a child’s’ ability to speak clearly by the time they are around four years old. Disorders include: substitutions such as “t” for “k”, “tite” for Kite”, omissions of sounds, duplication of sounds within words.

  • Language – A language disorder is impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve (1) the form of language (phonology, morphology, syntax), (2) the content of language (semantics), and/or (3) the function of language in communication (pragmatics) in any combination. Other areas of language a child might struggle with include pre-linguistic communication (e.g., joint attention and intentionality), paralinguistic communication (e.g., gestures, signs, body language), and literacy (reading, writing, spelling). Adults can also experience difficulty with language. Aphasia is an acquired neurogenic language disorder resulting from an injury to the brain—most typically, the left hemisphere. Aphasia involves varying degrees of impairment in four primary areas: spoken language expression, spoken language comprehension, written expression, reading comprehension. A person with aphasia often has relatively intact nonlinguistic cognitive skills, such as memory and executive function, although these and other cognitive deficits may co-occur with aphasia.

  • Cognitive-Communication Impairment- Cognition includes the areas of attention, memory, problem solving, executive functioning. Intervention services are provided to individuals with cognitive-communication disorders, including problems in the ability to attend to, perceive, organize, and remember information; to reason and to solve problems; and to exert executive or self-regulatory control over cognitive, language, and social skills functioning.

  • Voice – A voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, which is inappropriate for an individual's age and/or sex.

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – AAC systems attempt to compensate and facilitate, temporarily or permanently, for the impairment and disability patterns of individuals with severe expressive and/ or language comprehension disorders. Augmentative/alternative communication may be required for individuals demonstrating impairments in gestural, spoken, and/or written modalities.

  • Feeding and Swallowing – A swallowing disorder, also known as dysphagia, may occur as a result of various medical conditions and can affect both children and adults. Dysphagia is defined as problems involving the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, or gastroesophageal junction. Dysphagia can occur in one or more of the four phases of swallowing and can result in aspiration—the passage of food, liquid, or saliva into the trachea.  Feeding disorders are problems with a range of eating activities that may or may not include problems with swallowing. Feeding disorders experienced by children can be characterized by avoiding certain foods, disruptive/inappropriate meal time behaviors, difficulty mastering self-feeding, and experiencing less than optimal growth. SLPs perform clinical swallowing and feeding evaluation within a natural setting, and may also refer for instrumental assessment: videofluoroscopy or endoscopic assessment. NDHC currently has a contract to provide FEES (fiber-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) services in house. SLPs assist in determining safe diet recommendations, develop compensatory strategies to maximize patient’s functional abilities, increase swallowing functions through therapeutic activities, and provide caregiver and patient education. Sensory activities may also be utilized to improve patient’s oral motor function and decrease resistance to textures/consistencies.



Who might need speech therapy?

Those with the following conditions, but not limited to, may benefit from speech therapy.

  • Neurological disease/dysfunction (e.g., traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)

  • Neonatal problems (e.g., prematurity, low birth weight, substance exposure)

  • Developmental disorders (i.e., autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, intellectual disabilities, unspecified neurodevelopmental disorders)

  • Disorders of aerodigestive tract function (e.g., tracheostomy, chronic cough, paradoxical vocal fold motion)

  • Oral abnormalities (e.g., cleft lip/palate, dental malocclusion)

  • Pharyngeal abnormalities (e.g., upper airway obstruction)

  • Laryngeal abnormalities (e.g., vocal fold pathology)

  • Genetic disorders (e.g., Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome)

  • Orofacial myofunctional disorders (e.g., tongue thrust, habitual open-mouth posture, tethered oral tissue)

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