Speech pathologists are experts in vocalized forms of human communication.
Speech pathologists sometimes referred to as speech therapists or speech-language pathologists diagnose, develop treatment plansand help treat patients experiencing a diverse range of speech, cognitive, swallowing and language disorders.
These disorders can manifest in an inability to vocalise some sounds, problems with speech fluency and speech rhythm together with difficulties with their voices.
What Does A Medical Speech-Language Pathologist Do?
Speech pathologists often work with patients impacted by neurological events such as stroke, seizure, cancer or brain damage. Other patients may suffer from a trauma or a chronic disease.
Speech-language pathologists work with audiologists and doctors in treating patients of all ages, from the elderly through to infants. All Australian speech pathologists complete a university qualification.
Typical work carried out each day includes:
Diagnosing and developing treatment strategies to correct speech, cognitive, swallowing and language disorders
Assessing patient swallowing ability and prescribing an appropriate diet including identifying if certain food types have to be taken in liquid form or pureed)
Assisting aphasia patients to develop ways to communicate
Training caregivers and family members together with other medical professionals
Collaborating with the patient’s care team members
Conducting research to identify and evolve new treatment methods
The issues speech pathologists address several forms of communication and swallowing problems. These problems can manifest as:
Sounds: how we form sounds and assemble sounds to form complete words. These problems can include speech apraxia dysarthria or phonological problem
Language: Comprehension skills in understanding what we read or hear and how we employ words to communicate our thoughts to others. In adults, this issue is often diagnosed as aphasia
Literacy: Our writing and reading skills. Patients with language and speech disorders may experience problems with writing, spelling and reading
Social skills: How readily we follow social conventions such as how close we stand to people when talking, taking turns, or how we talk to other people
Vocalisation: How our voices sound including struggling to vocalize certain sounds, talking too loudly, sounding hoarse, losing our voices easily through to talking through our noses
Stuttering and Fluency: How rhythmically our speech flows. Most children outgrow a stutter but someone who stutters often repeats sounds, for example, c-c-c-college, constantly pausing or scattering “um” or “uh,” through their speech
Cognition: How well our minds work when communicating. Typical cognition-related problems include attention, memory, organizational, problem-solving and similar conceptual skills
Eating and Swallowing: How well we chew, swallow and suck food and drink. Swallowing disorders can result in weight loss, poor nutrition and other dysphagia problems.
Speech Pathologists Environments
Speech pathologists usually treat patients in hospitals both as patients and outpatients and in rehabilitation clinics. Hospital-based speech pathology often focuses on diagnosis, counselling and education. Rehabilitation clinics end to be more focused on improving functional skills to allow patients greater independence.
Outside healthcare environments, the education sector draws large numbers of speech pathologists work to deliver services to school-age children with a diverse range of disabilities.