COMMUNICATION

  • Aphasia
  • Word Finding Difficulties
  • Apraxia/Speech Disturbances
  • Dysarthria/Slurred Speech
  • Fluency

Communication Difficulties & Speech Disorders

Many know what it’s like to experience communication difficulties. It can happen in moments of stress, or as we age. We may catch ourselves struggling to find the right words. We may find it challenging to communicate as effectively as we used to.

These speech disruptions can be considered very normal. But sometimes word-finding becomes more frequent. Your communication gets interrupted in ways that fall outside of your comfort zone. You may already suspect that a speech disorder is at hand. Regardless of how you perceive these experiences — from mild to overly disruptive — you would most likely benefit from speech therapy.

If being proactive has served you well in other aspects of life, you will thank yourself for doing it here. Cobalt Therapy’s Speech-Language Pathologists are here to help you eliminate the sense of “disorder” that accompanies communication difficulties. We’ll help you find the therapeutic path that’s specific to you, and restore the confidence you deserve in your spoken word.

Aphasia vs. Apraxia

For individuals experiencing speech disorders, we perform exercises that strengthen the signals from your brain’s language center to your mechanics of speech. These mechanics consist of muscles that support your voice box and your articulators (lips, tongue, cheeks). When a person is having difficulty with the way they say certain sounds or words, we call it a speech difficulty or disorder.

Two disorders that we regularly treat with such exercises are aphasia and apraxia. Aphasia is a condition that interferes with your ability to speak and/or understand language. It is brought on by brain injury or trauma, and strokes are among the more common causes. The word-finding difficulties of aphasia can present in a variety of ways. Individuals with aphasia deserve extensive analysis to determine what will work best for their recovery.

Apraxia of speech is similar to aphasia in that it results from brain injury. The distinction of apraxia is that it disrupts the motor programming of speech production — movements in the mouth, specifically. The exercises we use to treat apraxia and aphasia share a common objective: to help the brain relearn how to send the correct signals again. Knowledge of where the signal break-down occurs helps Cobalt’s SLPs shape an individual’s course of action and recovery.

Dysarthria is typically referred to as “slurred speech.” This typically happens after an acquired brain injury where nerve damage weakens the ability to speak clearly. Cobalt applies therapeutic exercises that improve the ability to voice and articulate. We help dysarthria clients regain their volume as well as agility in speech production, which ultimately improves speech intelligibility.

Word Finding Difficulties

Word finding difficulties are common with age. It’s common to have a “tip of the tongue” experience where you know what you want to say, but that word is just not coming to you. You may be trying to put a new table together and you need “that thing”… the tool that grabs the thingy on the screw? But for the life of you, the words “wrench” and “nut” just won’t come out.

This is quite common as we age and even more so if under stress. When a person’s speech fluency becomes overly disrupted by these difficulties, it may be time to see a doctor and get started with therapy from an SLP that can alleviate these struggles.

DIANNE’S SUCCESS STORY

What: Stroke

Why: Referred to Cobalt Therapy for her aphasia (difficulty with words) and apraxia of speech (difficulty sequencing the sounds in words)

Then what happened?

Dianne had her stroke in 2015 which left her ability to speak severely impaired. When we met her on May 19, 2020 she could only make the “shhh” and “fff” sound when trying to voice. She would end up just shaking her head no in frustration.

When learning about her history with speech therapy, we were told she initially had speech therapy 3 times a week for 3 months after her stroke. Due to “lack of progress” she was decreased to once a week over a 5 year period. She was given a complex communication tablet to use in place of her voice. This ended up never being used due to how complex the device was. In October of 2019, she was given a final discharge from speech therapy declaring “Maximum potential achieved”. This meant she was not expected to make any more progress.

To achieve better results, we started treatment at 4 days a week, 60 minutes per session. She was also given an additional hour of home exercises to complete each day with her husband.

After just 3 weeks her ability to voice had improved by 10-15 dB and she was able to count to 5 with 50% intelligibility. After 4 weeks, her volume improved by 15-20 dB and her speech intelligibility increased to 90% when counting to 5.

It has been over a year now and Dianne has been learning how to write and say functional words again. She is down to 2 treatment sessions a week with a strong home exercise program. This never would have been possible without all of Dianne’s hard work, her very supportive husband and a treatment program that was high in frequency and intensity.

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