What is a Speech Pathologist?

Speech Pathologists are university trained allied health professionals who assess and manage people experiencing communication and/or swallowing problems.

Are you having trouble communicating your thoughts? Is your speech slurred or difficult to understand?

Imagine how difficult social interactions, day to day activities, our work and our interests would be without effective communication?

The ability to communicate clearly is very important. We need to be able to communicate our needs in order to maintain independence and personality. A speech pathologist can improve your communication skills.

Are you experiencing difficulties swallowing?

Sitting down to dinner with friends can be embarrassing if you experience frequent coughing or choking on food or liquid.

Difficulty swallowing can lead to weight loss, weakness, malnutrition, chest infections, fear of swallowing and even aspiration pneumonia. A speech pathologist is able to help you swallow with increased ease and safety.

Why Should I See A Speech Pathologist?

You would benefit from seeing a Speech Pathologist if you are experiencing difficulties with:

  • Language: which can involve the exchange of ideas in both the spoken or written forms. Difficulties may arise from comprehension &/or expression problems.
  • Cognition: which can involve problems with thinking, concentration, memory, learning, problem solving, planning or self-monitoring.
  • Speech: which can occur when the sounds in words do not come out clearly. The speech may sound slurred or difficult to understand.
  • Voice: which can impact on the function and quality of one’s normal voice. The voice may sound strained, croaky, breathy or hoarse.
  • Swallowing: which affects the ability to swallow in a safe, effective and timely manner. Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) can affect both physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Chronic cough: Which can present as an unexplained, ongoing cough.
  • Saliva management: which can involve management of excess saliva, drooling and dry mouth.

Conditions Treated

Speech Pathologists frequently assess and treat swallowing and communication difficulties in the following populations:

  • Frail and aged
  • Stroke (CVA)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Other neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Guillian Barre, Motor Neurone Disease
  • Occupations where loud talking is required (Teachers/aerobic instructors)
  • Cancer
  • Head and neck surgery/radiation treatment
  • Brain surgery/brain tumour
  • Chronic airway limitation (CAL)/ Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

What To Expect If I See A Speech Pathologist?

During an initial consultation the speech pathologist will ask questions to get a better understanding of the origin of your communication or swallowing difficulty. An assessment of your oral musculature will be performed. During a communication assessment, a formal or informal communication assessment will be conducted. During a swallowing assessment, the speech pathologist will watch you eating and drinking a variety of food and drink items. A modified barium swallow (which is an x-ray of your swallowing) may also comprise part of the assessment process. Based upon the findings in these assessments, recommendations are made and further assessment and/or treatments are suggested as appropriate. Assessments and treatment sessions generally take approximately 1 hour.