Speech-Language Pathology and Swallowing
Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are your experts in diagnosing and treating speech, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders. This may include retraining for "slurred speech" after a stroke, cognitive therapy after brain surgery, swallowing therapy related to a neurological condition, and everything in between.
Difficulty swallowing is called dysphagia and afflicts up to 22% of people over the age of 50. Swallowing is a complex neuromuscular activity and is susceptible to problems as a consequence of strokes, head injuries, esophageal disorders, head and neck cancers, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Swallowing problems are of particular concern and urgency because in its severe form, it can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
The Speech Department at Sibley Hospital offers clinical evaluations, videofluorosocopy exams which provide an x-ray video to diagnose swallow function, and soon Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES). If dysphagia therapy is indicated, Sibley’s SLPs work closely with patients and family to tailor a plan that can promote good eating and drinking habits while preserving health and safety.
Another area of expertise under the scope of Speech Language Pathologists is evaluating and rehabilitating cognitive deficits. Cognitive impairments are most often associated with strokes, head injuries and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries). Therapy may include learning strategies in improving attention, memory function, organization, reasoning and problem solving with the primary objective of returning patients to safe and functional living while maximizing independence.
Speech impairments in adults are most commonly the result of a stroke, head injury or brain surgery. Treatment focuses on strengthening the muscles used for speech, improving coordination and training in strategies for improving intelligibility of speech.
Evaluation of language disorders is a thorough process that includes expressive language, comprehension of language, reading and writing skills. It is in analyzing language that we observe how unique each brain is. Language therapy is customized according to the specific needs and learning styles of each individual.
Voice is assessed both perceptually and objectively using diagnostic tools including KayPentax’s Computerized Speech Lab, which analyzes the voice. There are many causes for a voice disorder, called dysphonia. People who use their voice for their employment are often at risk for developing nodules, or polyps on their vocal cords.
Other conditions that affect vocal function include spasmodic dysphonia, presbylaryngis, cancers, and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.
Voice therapy may focus on education in vocal hygiene, and training in reducing vocal strain and developing a strong and clear vocal quality. Sibley Hospital’s SLPs work closely with the referring otolaryngologists (ENTs) to develop a treatment plan that is effective and appropriate for vocal rehabilitation.
The Speech Pathologists at Sibley Hospital have devoted much of their training to treating Parkinson’s Disease (PD). PD affects the voice by creating a soft, breathy and/or hoarse vocal quality. Speech may become halting and occasionally stuttering surfaces. According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, as high as 40% of people with Parkinson’s experience swallowing difficulty at some time and may need intervention to learn safe swallowing techniques or may require a change in textures of foods/liquids to avoid aspiration. Additionally, PD often results in memory and language difficulties. Patients and caregivers can learn about strategies to optimize memory function and to improve communication.
about how our speech pathologists treat Parkinson's Disease with the LSVT LOUD program.
Head and Neck Cancer
People who have been diagnosed with head and neck cancers may experience complications in swallowing and speech. Although advances in cancer treatment continue to improve to maximize preservation of the structures involved in speech and swallowing, complications depend on the size and location of the tumor, and the type and nature of treatments required. A thorough speech and swallowing evaluation prior to cancer treatment is highly recommended to maximize function during and after cancer treatment has been completed.
Our Speech Language Pathologists are certified by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the national board, and licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland. They are certified and trained in LSVT LOUD, and VitalStim, and are skilled in Modified Barium Swallow Studies (Videofluorosocopy), tracheostomy and Passy Muir Valves, to name a few.
Washington Hearing and Speech is part of the Sibley Center for Rehabilitation Medicine. We are located in the Sibley Renaissance Building.
Phone Number: 202-537-4010