We as humans are a community that thrives on the ability to communicate with those around us. With many means of communicating, our voices, the ability to speak, serve as an especially valuable and empowering tool that cannot be taken for granted.
There are certain conditions that threaten to take away our ability to speak and sometimes our ability to swallow or hear, both of which also impact our speech and communication. These communication disorders can be a result of stroke, brain damage, muscle weakness or respiratory distress throughout one’s lifetime. In other instances, communication disorders are congenital, in other words, they are present at birth. Regardless of the cause or duration of the communication disorder, losing the ability to speak or not having the ability to communicate is scary and can result in feelings of helplessness or frustration.
In the older population, speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, are especially beneficial in the recovery processes following a stroke or in the therapy involved in dementia and other physical disorders. These conditions along with others can result in language and communication barriers. Aphasia, characterized by a difficulty in reading, writing, speaking and understanding language and apraxia, characterized by a difficulty in forming words, are two communication disorders that can commonly result from a stroke. Dementia often leads to difficulty thinking of words, trouble remembering thoughts, or losing attention during conversations. Physical weakness of the vocal cords can also result from multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These disorders have the potential to affect us and our loved ones and deeply impact our independence. Recognizing the value in seeking out speech therapy can help to preserve an individual’s ability to speak and communicate for as long as possible.
In such situations, speech therapy is a remarkable service that can alleviate much of the distress that accompanies communication challenges. Speech therapy is a speech and language focused treatment that can aid in communication disorders spanning the lifetime.
Services include assistance with early language skills, voice and sound production, comprehension, fluency, clarity and expression. The therapist will work with patients to create highly individualized treatment plans and can provide additional techniques for the individual to practice on their own. Speech therapy is most commonly available in hospitals and clinics, but BrightSpring Health Services is one of the few home health companies to offer at-home speech therapy. This has a huge advantage, as it offers the potential to receive therapy in the comfort of your own home, which is important during such a vulnerable time. Recovering from and overcoming a speech disorder can be a long process. It requires patience and support from family and friends, and a speech therapist can aid in the journey to recovery.
The benefits from speech therapy are undeniable. With the help of a speech-language pathologist, you, your family member, your loved one or your friend will feel better, communicate better, regain more independence, and overall experience an improved quality of life.
Speech therapy is provided for disorders of communication, cognition and swallowing. When speech intervention is necessary it means that one of the most essential human functions is compromised. What could be more important than restoring a means of communication, thinking or eating?
Speech-language pathologists are trained professionals with the ability to improve or restore function in these areas. They must have a Master’s degree and state licensure. Most hold clinical certification (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Their expertise and services include, but are not limited to:
Speech Services –
Language Services –
Increasing sentence length
Alternative means of Communication –
Dedicated communication devices
Eye gaze/non-hand switches for communication devices
Low tech picture communication systems
Swallowing Services –
Objective swallow studies (Modified Barium Swallow or FEES)
Bedside swallow evaluation
Postures/positioning for increased swallow function
Modified texture diets
Thermal/tactile and swallow-related oral motor exercises
Electrical stimulation of swallow, such as VitalStim
Cognitive-Communicative Services –
Planning and initiation
Can effective speech therapy be provided at home?
Whether the need for speech therapy arises from an illness, disease or accident, speech-language pathologists can provide most services at home. Many people in recovery have spent weeks or months in hospitals and are thrilled to return home. Others may not have been hospitalized but do not have a means of transportation to outpatient service facilities. Still others are homebound, receiving all care in their residence. It is still possible to receive high quality, evidence-based speech-language, swallowing or cognitive-communicative therapy. There are actually benefits to receiving therapy at home.
Benefits of in-home speech therapy
People feel most comfortable in their homes and everything they need is nearby. Therapy will be less disruptive for medication, food or bathroom breaks.
In the home, a speech pathologist frequently encounters family members or professional caregivers. They can observe therapy and receive education or counseling about the techniques implemented by the therapist. Continuity of care then improves when the speech pathologist is not present. Family members or professional caregivers are with patients many more hours per week than the visiting therapists. Knowledgeable caregivers can encourage patients to use techniques throughout the week. This extends the therapeutic effect by increasing practice time and intensity. Recent research suggests these parameters improve patient outcomes. Additionally, naturalistic home environments support generalization of techniques to everyday situations, not confining learned behaviors to just the speech pathologist or clinic.
Personally Relevant Materials
Another benefit of in-home speech therapy is that the patient’s own items can be used in therapy. For example, in language or memory therapy family pictures or photo albums can be adapted as stimulus materials. In swallowing therapy, the speech pathologist can use the patient’s actual silverware. This can increase the accuracy of instructions and the safety of the patient during swallowing. A patient’s spoon may be twice the size of a plastic spoon commonly used in outpatient rehabilitation.
Less Stress and Energy Expenditure
Patients experience fatigue with illness or during recovery. In-home speech therapy reduces the burden on the patient for travel time and physical activity, saving energy to put into a meaningful therapy session instead. This improves patient’s stamina and allows a speech-language pathologist to see a patient at his or her best.
There are numerous reasons why people elect to have rehabilitation at home. An experienced speech-language pathologist can provide quality therapy in that environment and actually harness the benefits of in-home speech therapy to enhance a patient’s experience within individual therapy sessions and overall outcomes.
AT Home Care & Hospice – Fredericksburg and Tri-Cities has been recognized by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) as a “Superior Performer” for achieving an overall caregiver and family satisfaction score that ranked in the top 20% of all eligible SHP clients for the 2021 calendar year.
AT Home Care & Hospice is an established, full-service Virginia home health and hospice agency that provides a superior quality of services in a caring manner.