Speech is a form of communication that requires control of your vocal cords, breathing and muscles of the mouth to form words and sentences in a fluent and comprehensible manner. Language is the ability to express yourself verbally and understand others. Speech and language disability may occur due to developmental delays, hearing loss, autism (neurodevelopmental disorder), aphasia (brain damage leading to language disorders), stroke or major trauma. Speech therapy helps improve speech, language, oral motor skills, comprehension, communication and memory, as well as the use of sign language and other communication aids.
Home health care speech therapists work as a team with your doctor, audiologist and psychologist to evaluate and diagnose your problem with speech and communication. Once the cause is determined, an individualized treatment plan is formulated keeping in mind your functional, environmental and social needs at home. Some of them include:
- Tongue and speech exercises to improve coordination of the oral muscles
- Mirrors and tape recorders, to enhance coordination between the brain and body
- Breathing exercises, to control stammering and improve fluency in speech
- Exercises to develop hearing, comprehension and conversational skills
- When speech cannot be restored, methods of nonverbal communication are taught to the patient and family.
- Use of adaptive speech devices
- Hearing rehabilitation
Speech therapy also involves correction of swallowing abnormalities to improve nutritional intake and prevent entry of food into the lungs.
Speech therapy helps improve your quality of life with better cognitive and communication skills to express your needs and ideas, by regaining your ability to eat and swallow, and live a more independent life. In the familiar setting of your own home, speech therapy has been found to achieve a better response to treatment.