Speech & Language Pathology
Baptist Health Lexington's speech-language pathology department provides services to children and adults on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
Understanding Speech & Language Pathology
Speech-language pathologists work with people who have communication or swallowing disorders. Speech and language disorders limit a person's ability to communicate with others.
A speech-language pathologist is a specialist in communication and swallowing disorders. All speech-language pathologists at Baptist Health Lexington have a master's degree, a state license and a Certificate of Clinical Competence awarded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Baptist Health Lexington also has the only board-recognized specialist in Swallowing & Swallowing Disorders in the state.
Speech–language pathologists (SLPs) who have advanced knowledge, skills and experience are recognized by the designation of BRS-S or Board Recognized Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. Baptist Health Lexington promotes BRS-S Specialty Recognition through career advancement for their speech-language pathologists who obtain Board Recognition in Swallowing Disorders.
At Baptist Health Lexington, our speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat speech, language, cognitive, oral motor and swallowing deficits in children and adults.
Baptist Health Lexington provides services to infants and children with feeding and swallowing or voice problems.
Feeding and Swallowing Problems
Feeding and swallowing problems can have a variety of causes. Infants born with cleft lip and/or palate may experience difficulty with eating. The speech-language pathologist can help determine the appropriate bottle and positioning to use to improve feeding skills.
Some infants, especially if born prematurely, show a lack of interest in feeding.
Sometimes children have weak muscles in their mouth or throat that might cause difficulty with sucking, biting, chewing and swallowing.
Other children may be described as ‘picky eaters’, because they will eat or drink only a limited number of foods and liquids. A full assessment is needed to determine the cause of the feeding or swallowing problem in the infant or child so that appropriate treatment
Children may have a hoarse voice. This can be caused by excessive yelling or loud talking. After the ENT examines the child, a referral may be made for the speech-language pathologist to provide voice therapy. The speech-language pathologist (SLP) will help identify the possible causes of the hoarseness and work with you and your child to learn healthier ways to use the voice. The SLP may also teach the child exercises to help strengthen the vocal folds through voice therapy.
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM)
Also called Vocal Cord Dysfunction, this disorder is sometimes mistaken for asthma. The vocal folds squeeze shut tightly, making it difficult to breathe. In children and adolescents, this is often associated with exercise and sports. The speech-language pathologist will help determine what is causing the attacks and help the child learn how to control the spasms in the vocal folds.
Adults who have a neurological disease such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) may have difficulty communicating or swallowing.
When someone suffers a stroke they will be hospitalized and then may go to a rehabilitation center or receive services through Home Health. Some patients may be well enough to come to the hospital as an out-patient several days a week to work on their communication. They may have difficulty understanding what is said or what they read. They may have trouble expressing their thoughts or writing down their thoughts. This is called aphasia.
The speech-language pathologist will help the patient regain communication skills. The SLP will also teach the family members how to help their loved one communicate.
Stroke can also cause difficulty with forming words if the muscles in the mouth are not working well. This is called dysarthria. Sometimes the muscles are working well, but the message from the brain to the mouth gets disrupted, causing an apraxia.
Head and Neck Cancer
Cancer of the head and neck can result in speech and/or swallowing problems as well. The tumor itself, or the radiation therapy used to treat the tumor can result in difficulty chewing and swallowing. The radiation oncologist may refer the patient to the speech-language pathologist when radiation treatment begins. The SLP will teach the patient exercises for the mouth and throat to keep the muscles moving and working.
If the cancer is in the larynx and the voice box is removed, the SLP can help the patient regain the ability to speak. The patient might learn esophageal speech or use a device that produces sound called an electrolarynx. More likely the patient will use a special prosthesis to help produce a new voice.
Patients with Parkinson’s Disease often have difficulty being heard and understood because their voice becomes soft. Baptist Health Lexington is proud to offer the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT)®.
This treatment has been shown to be effective in helping patients regain a loud voice that can be heard and understood.
Adults can experience hoarseness or other problems with their voice that can be caused by an injury, polyps, nodules, over-use of the voice or even paralysis of the vocal folds. Voice therapy can help the patient learn how to use the voice muscles appropriately, and eliminate the hoarseness. Exercises can help strengthen the vocal muscles so that the voice does not get tired when the patient has to talk a lot.
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM)
Also called Vocal Cord Dysfunction this disorder is sometimes mistaken for asthma. The vocal folds squeeze shut tightly, making it difficult to breathe. In adults, the attacks can be triggered by allergens, stress or even gastroesophageal reflux. The speech-language pathologist will help determine what is causing the attacks and help the patient learn how to control the spasms in the vocal folds.
Swallowing Problems (Dysphagia)
Dysphagia can result from neurological diseases, surgery, radiation therapy or can occur without an obvious cause. Swallowing is a complex act requiring the coordination of many nerves and muscles. The speech-language pathologist can assess the different phases of the swallow to determine what the difficulty may be. The SLP assesses the oral phase (what happens with the food in the mouth) and the pharyngeal phase, when the food passes into the throat. To assess this phase, the SLP will perform one of two studies. The modified barium swallow is a moving picture x-ray that shows how the muscles in the throat are working and whether the food and liquid are going to the stomach or if some is falling into the airway. A serious consequence of food or liquid getting into the airway is aspiration pneumonia.
The SLP might perform a study using a small endoscope to look into the throat as you swallow. This study is called a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing.
Problems with memory can have many causes. If the problem is mostly difficulty thinking of the names of people and things, and trouble expressing ideas, the speech-language pathologist may be able to provide some treatment to help address the problems. Sometimes the SLP will work with the patient and their family to teach strategies for coping with memory loss.
To schedule an appointment for outpatient speech therapy, have your physician fax a referral to central scheduling at 859-260-4254.
Baptist Health Lexington Home Care provides speech therapy to homebound patients in an 11-county area in central Kentucky. For more information on receiving speech-language pathology services at home, please call (859) 260-6569 or toll free 1-800-489-3002.
For More Information
For more information about outpatient speech services, please call (859) 260-6129.