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The Speech-Language Pathology Department

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The Speech-Language Pathology Department at Craig Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services for people with brain and spinal cord injuries and sets as its standard, the American-Speech-Language Hearing-Association’s overall goal to “make communication a human right, accessible and achievable for all”. Speech-Language Pathologists at Craig Hospital function as key team members to help identify personally and contextually-relevant goals for each patient. With these goals in mind, we work with the rehabilitation team to facilitate growth of the cognitive and behavioral skills, learning strategies, communication abilities, and swallow functions needed to achieve those goals.

Understanding that neurologic injury can affect a person’s cognitive, social, behavioral, and/or emotional functioning, our department takes a holistic, but individualized approach with every person with whom we work. This comprehensive frame-of-mind means we embrace the family as part of the rehabilitative team to help inform rehabilitative goals and plan-of-care. We work together to help the patient and family achieve the skills, independence, and safety necessary and beneficial for daily functioning here and beyond Craig Hospital. Our rehabilitative expertise is cultivated by a hospital-wide culture that supports translation of efficacious research into innovative and evidence-based clinical practice.

The needs of patients and families at Craig are met by the variety of experts we have in our department including 13 fulltime SLPs, a teacher, a music therapist, bilingual speech-language pathologists, and therapists specializing in Augmentative-Alternative Communication modalities, water protocol, FEES (Fluroscopic Evaluation Swallowing), DPNS, and VitalStim.In addition to being an integral part of the on-site rehabilitation team, Speech-Language Pathologists at Craig Hospital extend their expertise beyond the department to guest lecturing, teaching, community outreach, and involvement in many stages of research.

Department Services:

Individuals experiencing difficulty in the following areas could benefit from Craig Hospital’s speech services:

Aphasia is an impairment of language that can mildly, moderately, or severely impact a persons’ ability to express and understand many aspects of language. This language impairment can impair the ability to express oneself through talking, writing, or gesture (e.g., sign language). Aphasia can also impair the ability to understand what one hears or reads, or what is being gestured.

Apraxia is a disorder that makes difficult the sequencing and coordination of movements.  Many different body structures can be affected by apraxia, and as such, there are many different forms of this disorder including but not limited to oral apraxia, apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia), limb apraxia, and conceptual apraxia.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders
This refers to communication difficulties that stem from underlying impairments in cognition, behavior, and/or emotion.

Cognitive impairment
Cognition can be described as the means by which we acquire knowledge or understanding. The essential processes by which we acquire information include the five primary senses paired with our arousal, attention, speed of processing, visualspatial ability, memory, language, and executive functioning. These are all neural functions and consequently, neurologic injury can often impair one or many of these processes.

Communication and Environmental access
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):  AAC includes all forms of communication, other than speech. Craig Hospital provides assessment, recommendations, and training to those with severe speech or language problems who may rely on a system to supplement their existing communication or completely replace speech that may be non-functional. AAC systems (whether low- or high-tech) allow individuals to communicate their thoughts, express their feelings, direct their caregivers regarding their wants/needs, and participate in social interactions.

Assistive Technology
Speech-Language Pathologists also work with those persons who, because of physical or cognitive limitations, have limited or no traditional access to technology (such as phones, appliances/equipment, and computers). Use of specialty or adapted equipment or use of speech-recognition technology helps individuals manage their own care/finances/appointments, maintain their social support system, and pursue and achieve successful return to school or employment.

Dysarthria is a neurogenic speech disorder caused by a weakened, paralyzed, or uncoordinated speech system. The speech of a person with dysarthria may sound sluggish, weak, imprecise, or uncoordinated.

Dysphagia is a term used when a person experiences difficulty swallowing food, liquid or managing secretions. Neurologic injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, tumor, degenerative disease) can damage the muscles and nerves that are needed to control food or liquid as it moves from the mouth, through the throat, to the stomach.