The ability to speak with one another is a very human characteristic. Speech and language problems can affect anyone of any age at any time. Susan Long, MA, CCC-SLP, provides speech and language pathology services at St. Francis Rehab & Sports Medicine to those suffering with communication impairments. She will quickly tell you that the rehabilitative services she provides include much more than speech. The programs she offers include stroke rehabilitation, voice problems, traumatic brain injury, oral motor skills, and swallowing disorders.
Swallowing is as necessary to life as breathing. When a person has a swallowing disorder, there is always the danger of food or liquid going into the lungs rather than into the stomach. Utilizing comprehensive assessments including a swallowing study using a videofluoroscopy (moving x-ray) exam, disorders are identified and follow-up treatment developed to improve function.
Depending on each patient’s needs, speech, language and/or swallowing evaluations are conducted with the results determining the patient’s individualized plan of care. When speech conditions are identified, the plan of care may include aspiration precautions, swallowing strategies, therapeutic exercise, and cognitive and communication retraining.
Long works with a variety of patients including hospitalized, outpatient, and home care patients. She see patients from age one to 101. She also works with area schools.
“I enjoy working with pediatric patients and school-age children with speech or language impairments, or other developmental delays. There is never a dull moment with this age group,” says Long.
In all, Long averages 20 to 50 therapy sessions per week. Her workweek varies to meet the needs of the patient.
“I’m here (at the hospital) depending on the patient or family’s schedule,” Long advises. “I love what I do, and love the variety of patients and families I encounter. It can be challenging but it is also rewarding.”
Patients who have suffered a stroke or other brain trauma are at risk of developing asphasia, a condition that leaves them unable to express thoughts. People of all ages can stutter or have problems with their voice. When patients have communication problems, they can struggle with expressing their daily needs or exchanging thoughts and ideas with other. Patients with language expression or comprehension problems have difficulty conveying and understanding messages either orally, in written form or through gestures or facial expression. Patients that have cognitive concerns suffer with thinking skills and awareness of one’s surroundings, sustained attention to tasks, memory recall and the ability to solve problems during daily activities.
Speech and language problems are serious. Sufferers become isolated and are frustrated with efforts to learn and grow. When speech, language expression, and cognitive skills work cohesively together, they produce effective communication.
“I am rewarded everyday in the successes of my patients,” Long concludes. “There is nothing more exciting than a patient working hard and regaining the skill that they’ve lost.”
For more information on speech therapy or other rehabilitative programs offered at St. Francis Rehab & Sports Medicine, visit www.stfancismaryville.com.