Newton Medical Center (NMC), along with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month this May to raise public awareness of speech, language and swallowing disorders, which affect 14 million Americans.
Speech, language and swallowing disorders can take many forms and can limit an individual’s ability to achieve, adjust and advance in society. An individual may be born with a speech or language disorder, or the disorder may be caused by accidental injury or illness.
“Fortunately, most people with speech, language and swallowing problems can be helped,” said Morgan Simmons, a speech therapist at NMC. “Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach people with these problems strategies to help them cope. People may not fully regain their capacity to speak and understand or to even swallow, but a speech-language pathologist can help them live more independently.”
Speech-language pathologists are the professionals who treat all types of speech, language, swallowing and other related disorders. They hold at least a master’s degree and are certified by ASHA; in Kansas, they also are licensed by the state. Speech-language pathologists work in schools, private practices, hospitals, clinics and other health and education settings.
ASHA is the national professional, scientific and credentialing association for more than 145,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech, language and hearing scientists.
At NMC, speech-language therapy has recently taken a technological leap. Pathologists are now using the popular computer tablet iPad in their work with patients. The iPad has more than 45 applications that can be used in therapy, including such areas as:
- Alternative/Augmentative communication boards
- Language builders
Currently, three children and one adult are using the iPad in outpatient therapy, The therapists are also using it in the Inpatient Rehab Unit.
“It allows us to create a more engaging therapy setup,’” said Simmons, who also noted that it is more environmentally friendly. “However, the iPad doesn’t replace traditional therapy techniques. It just enhances the experience for a ‘tech generation.’”