Speech can be defined as the sound that humans produce from their vocal cords in order to communicate with one another. For some reasons, there may occur a problem in producing the desired sound or speech. Speech Therapy for Adults is more complex than it appears actually. Generally, this difficulty in speech is classified into two types –
➔ When there is difficulty in producing a particular speech sound. This type is known as articulation.
➔ When there is difficulty in using the sound produced by speech in the desired way. This type is known as Phonology
Speech difficulty in adults may have been from childhood or may have inflicted due to some trauma or due to some disease. Before going in details into Speech Therapy for adults, one must understand the various reasons and pathology. In most of the cases where the problem is since childhood, it goes away with time. In cases of diseases, complication may arise in cases of Parkinson’s, stroke or multiple sclerosis. This is known as acquired complication where the complication arises later in life.Acquired speech difficulties can be of the following two types –
1. Dysarthria – where there is slow movement of facial muscles such as tongue, jaw, lips,etc, which results in a speech that is ‘slurred’. This results in an unclear speech.
2. Apraxia – where it is difficult to coordinate the movement of all the muscles involved in producing a clear speech. This makes a particular word appear differently each time it is produced.
Both these cases of acquired disorder are result of any damage that has been inflicted on the brain. This damage to a particular brain part may be caused by illnesses like stroke, head injury, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease (MND), tumors, poisons, etc. To help adults with speech difficulties, a speech therapist (speech-language pathologist) assess the level of communication, an impaired person can achieve with speech, along with their
breathing rate and muscle movement. Therefore, according to the difficulty and the level of difficulty the speech therapist devises a course which has to be followed for the therapy. In general, speech therapy in adults is applied to achieve the objective to decrease the regularity with which stuttering occurs. For this, the pathologist suggests several exercises which involve specific and controlled movement of the muscles. The patient is to work on the exercise daily and achieve the goal over a period of time. There are several apps present in the current scenario, which help patients to work on their therapy in comfortable confinements of their home, e.g. – Tactus Therapy. If the patient has problems with swallowing, the therapist generally prescribes a diet having a consistency that is compatible with comfortable swallowing. This is planned in accordance with the reflexes the muscles have left. In certain cases, there is almost zero reflex action that the
muscles of the throat and the jaw presents. In such cases, the patient is generally kept on a liquid diet. The pathologist also works on the posture with which the person holds himself or herself and may advise on a different one.
Most of the symptoms that are associated with swallowing difficulties involve –
● While eating or drinking the patient generally experiences a series of cough.
● The patient feels that food is stuck somewhere in his food pipe, but actually, no such
thing has happened.
● The unclear voice that may appear gurgly.
● The patient has a history of chest infections that have a recurring nature.
Difficulty in communication occurs as a part of the process of aging. It may be further degraded by the numerous diseases that get associated with old age. Along with this, muscles lose their flexibility which may hinder their ability to form perfect speech. To overcome these aspects, therapists generally advise on speech intervention combined with the full assessment. The therapist helps the patient in controlling their rate of speech. This decreases the possibility of a
slurred speech and brings clarity to it. With the era of newly developed technologies, scientists have also invented certain devices that help people with speech disability. One such technique is Assistive Technology (AAC). It interfaces with the brain or the voice of the patient and delivers a voice output. Certain models can also deliver the output in the form of a written message. This has resulted in a boom in the sector for communication and communication difficulties. This type of technology focuses on each and every modality of the communication. Accordingly, AAC comprises of three modules – the assistive, the adaptive, and the rehabilitative devices. Each device works on a specific detail of the speech therapy process. As the name suggests, the assistive device help in speaking for the patient and assists the patient in his or her way of communication. The adaptive devices, help the patient learn with the device and at the end of the therapy will be able to use that device to their best advantage. The most advanced of them all is the rehabilitative device which helps the person to work on his or her speech. The device helps the person in producing a clear speech after the full course of the
therapy. Therefore, if the device is able to achieve its objective, then the patient does not need
to depend on it.
Although assistive devices come in all sizes and methods, ranging from hi-tech devices which have a voice output to low-tech devices which show the output in the form of a picture. As a part of speech therapy for adults patient is advised to try a series of options. According to the best fit, the patient may choose a device according to his or her comfort. Several speech centers also provide the facility of a nursing home for people with speech difficulties. They are equipped with the latest technologies that help in assessing the level of difficulties related to the speech. These nursing homes provide a comfortable environment
which helps them to work on their voice modulation without any stigma of shame or whatsoever. These centers also help people suffering from dementia to overcome their problem with swallowing of food and other related issues. Thus, helping people to achieve a better standard of life.