Speech-language pathologists evaluate a patient's communication, thinking processes, and swallowing abilities. Therapy provides patients with skills to improve their attention, memory, reasoning, and understanding of language and speaking, as well as helping patients to eat and swallow safely. Therapy is individualized to meet a patient's needs. Family education is an integral part of treatment. The goal of therapy is to help patients communicate effectively at home, in the community, and in the work or school setting.
The Field in Perspective
The field of speech-language pathology is broad and dynamic. The study of language, its use and understanding, as well as the processes needed to produce language, is encompassed in this occupation. The ability to communicate with others is essential to the human existence. When an individual is unable to communicate, there is a decrease in the quality of life of that particular individual. The speech-language pathologist is trained to appreciate the impact of communication disorders and to assist individuals in overcoming and/or minimizing barriers in their lives as a result of these disorders.
The speech-language pathologist's role is to evaluate, understand and treat communication impairments. These impairments include hearing loss, language disorders, speech fluency impairments, articulation deficits, cognitive dysfunction and vocal disturbances. The speech-language pathologist's also undertake the evaluation and management of dysphagia (swallowing disorders).
Study in this area involves coursework that covers normal human development, acquisition of language processes, disorders of communication and treatment principles and skills. A master's degree and state licensure are necessary to practice in the field. Clinical experience is accrued during schooling and the Required Profession Experience (first year of practice with approved supervision). Special Class Authorizations and Clinical Rehabilitative Services Credential can be obtained for employment in schools, including special day classes for severely language impaired children.
Settings in which speech-language pathologists are employed include private practices, public schools, universities, skilled nursing facilities, acute care hospitals, rehabilitational hospitals, home health agencies, and research facilities.
Evaluation and Treatment Services for Pediatric and Adult Population
- Clinical bedside swallow evaluations/treatment
- Modified barium swallow studies
- E-Stim treatment for dysphagia
- Aphaisia diagnosis and treatment
- Feeding clinic for infants to teens
- Evaluation and treatment of traumatic brain injury
- Child language evaluation and treatment
- Evaluation and treatment of motor speech disorders
- Ongoing research in the areas of aphasia, apraxia, and infant feeding/swallowing