May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

This month, Strive! is pleased to recognize the Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) who help our patients communicate better, feel better, and live better every day.

Strive! SLPs work with inpatients at Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community Hospital, and are trained to assess and treat speech disorders, language and communication disorders, cognitive-communication disorders and swallowing disorders. They often assist patients who have trouble communicating or swallowing because of traumatic brain injury or stroke.

An SLP, who works at both hospitals, says most patients they see need to be assessed for cognitive-comprehension issues and/or swallowing problems.

“Every patient has to be able to communicate,” they say. “If you can’t verbalize, we have to find another way. We have to tap into the best way for patients to communicate, especially if they’re in pain.”

They add that many times, patients who are in the hospital with pneumonia or following a stroke may have difficulty swallowing. SLPs can help patients improve muscle movement for swallowing, find positions that allow them to swallow easier, and identify foods and liquids that are easier and safer to swallow.

One patient they will never forget is a young girl who had a traumatic brain injury and didn’t seem to be able to communicate and couldn’t eat. During therapy, they realized the patient was not responding to English but had reverted to her first language, Spanish. They were first able to communicate only through gestures, but after speech therapy is now able to speak, write, text, and even make jokes.

Another speech therapy patient they remember well is the man who was in the hospital for several months after having a stroke. They worked with him on swallowing, and he went from not being able to eat at all to feeding himself. “His joy was eating his native culture’s food,” they said.

The SLP has worked with Strive! for seven years, and has been a Speech and Language Pathologist for 15 years.  When educating a patient who had a stroke or traumatic brain injury, they like to use the analogy of the brain as a filing cabinet to explain what happened.

“All the information is still inside your brain,” the SLP says. “But it’s like the file cabinet tipped over and everything’s scattered. We have to pick up the papers, re-file them, and make those connections.”

They say they enjoy the array of different ways they are able to help patients with speech therapy. “It’s very rewarding,” the SLP says.

All our Speech and Language Pathologists at Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community Hospital, enjoy helping patients Strive! everyday for better communication and getting them back on the road to health and happiness.