Diverse Speech & Language Therapist Needs

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Medical problems which a Speech and Language Therapist deals with include:

  • Problems with the voice (Dysphonia)

  • Swallowing problems (Dysphagia

Dysphonia has either organic or functional causes due to impairment of any one of the vocal organs. However, typically it is caused by some kind of interruption of the ability of the vocal folds to vibrate normally during exhalation.

Common types of dysphonia include:

  • Organic dysphonia

  • Laryngitis (Acute: viral, bacterial) - (Chronic: smoking, GERD, LPR)

  • Neoplasm (Premalignant: dysplasia) - (Malignant: Squamous cell carcinoma)

  • Trauma (Iatrogenic: surgery, intubation) - (Accidental: blunt, penetrating, thermal)

  • Endocrine (Hypothyroidism, hypogonadism)

  • Haematological (Amyloidosis)

  • Iatrogenic (inhaled corticosteroids)

  • Functional dysphonia

  • Psychogenic

  • Vocal misuse

  • Idiopathic

  • Clinical Measurement

Dysphonia is measured using a variety of examination tools that allow the clinician to see the pattern of vibration of the vocal folds, principally laryngeal videostroboscopy. Subjective measurement of the severity of dysphonia is carried out by trained clinical staff. Objective measurement of the severity of dysphonia typically requires signal processing algorithms applied to acoustic or electroglottographic recordings.

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition, such as:

People suffering with dysphagia are vulnerable to developing chest infections and pneumonia, as well as weight loss.

Older people are at a higher risk of developing dysphagia due to normal wear and tear of the oesophagus, thus a typical swallow involves different muscles and nerves. Dysphagia can occur at any age but is more common in older people and more people will suffer from dysphagia because of the “expanding ageing population”, it is an illness which increase with age, as the muscles used in swallowing naturally become weaker and cause swallowing problems.

Also specific illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease can eventually cause dysphagia. The relationship between speech and language therapists and dieticians is crucial to the delivery of safe and effective services in dysphagia.