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Sibley Memorial Hospital

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Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy

Speech-language pathologists are experts in diagnosing and treating speech, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders. This may include retraining for “slurred speech” after a stroke, cognitive therapy after brain surgery, swallowing therapy related to a neurological condition and everything in between.

Our speech-language pathologists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the national board and are licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland. They are certified and trained in LSVT LOUD™ and VitalStim® and are skilled in modified barium swallow studies (videofluoroscopy), fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) exams, tracheostomy and Passy-Muir® valves, to name a few.

Swallowing Difficulties

Difficulty swallowing is called dysphagia and afflicts up to 22 percent of people over the age of 50. Swallowing is a complex neuromuscular activity and is susceptible to problems as a consequence of strokes, head injuries, esophageal disorders, head and neck cancers and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Swallowing problems are of particular concern and urgency because in its severe form, it can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

The Speech Department at Sibley Hospital offers clinical evaluations, videofluoroscopy exams that provide an X-ray video to diagnose swallow function and FEES. If dysphagia therapy is indicated, Sibley’s speech-language pathologists work closely with patients and family to tailor a plan that can promote good eating and drinking habits while preserving health and safety.

Cognitive Therapy

Another area of expertise under the scope of Speech Language Pathologists is evaluating and rehabilitating cognitive deficits. Cognitive impairments are most often associated with strokes, head injuries and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries). Therapy may include learning strategies in improving attention, memory function, organization, reasoning and problem solving with the primary objective of returning patients to safe and functional living while maximizing independence.

Speech Therapy

Speech impairments in adults are most commonly the result of a stroke, head injury or brain surgery. Treatment focuses on strengthening the muscles used for speech, improving coordination and training in strategies for improving intelligibility of speech.

Language Therapy

Evaluation of language disorders is a thorough process that includes expressive language, comprehension of language, reading and writing skills. It is in analyzing language that we observe how unique each brain is. Language therapy is customized according to the specific needs and learning styles of each individual.

Voice Therapy

Voice is assessed both perceptually and objectively using diagnostic tools, including the KayPENTAX Computerized Speech Lab, which analyzes the voice. There are many causes for a voice disorder, called dysphonia. People who use their voice for their employment are often at risk for developing nodules or polyps on their vocal cords.

Other conditions that affect vocal function include spasmodic dysphonia, presbylaryngis, cancers and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.

Voice therapy may focus on education in vocal hygiene and training in reducing vocal strain and developing a strong and clear vocal quality. The Sibley speech-language pathologists work closely with the referring otolaryngologists (also called ENTs) to develop a treatment plan that is effective and appropriate for vocal rehabilitation.

Treatment Strategies for Conditions

Parkinson’s Disease

The speech-language pathologists at Sibley have devoted much of their training to treating Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s affects the voice by creating a soft, breathy and/or hoarse vocal quality. Speech may become halting and occasionally stuttering. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, as many as 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease experience swallowing difficulty at some time and may need intervention to learn safe swallowing techniques or may require a change in textures of foods/liquids to avoid aspiration. Additionally, Parkinson’s disease often results in memory and language difficulties. Patients and caregivers can learn about strategies to optimize memory function and to improve communication.

Learn more about how our speech pathologists treat Parkinson’s disease with the LSVT LOUD program.

Head and Neck Cancer

People who have been diagnosed with head and neck cancers may experience complications in swallowing and speech. Although advances in cancer treatment continue to improve to maximize preservation of the structures involved in speech and swallowing, complications depend on the size and location of the tumor and the type and nature of treatments required. A thorough speech and swallowing evaluation prior to cancer treatment is highly recommended to maximize function during and after cancer treatment has been completed.

Contact Us

Washington Hearing and Speech is part of the Sibley Center for Rehabilitation Medicine. We are located in Building D, Level 1.

Phone Number: 202-364-7665