Speech Therapy is more than just words

September 13, 2023

Mille Lacs Health System is happy to announce Sara Schewe, MS, CCC-SLP has recently joined our team as a Speech & Language Pathologist.

Sara has a background as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Through that role, she discovered her interest in Speech Therapy, particularly for the older population. Sara sees patients of any age, but her primary focus is on adult needs.

Speech Therapy is a treatment that improves your ability to talk and use other language skills. It helps you express your thoughts and understand what other people are saying to you. It can also improve skills like memory and the ability to solve problems.

When many of us think of “Speech Therapy” we think of the words that come out of our mouths, the pronunciation, etc. However, one of the more common and less thought of conditions treated in Speech Therapy is feeding & swallowing difficulties. The same muscles and structures that are responsible for creating sounds for communication are the same muscles and structures that are necessary for swallowing food and liquids. These challenges can occur due to other health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, after a stroke, or after some cancer treatments, etc.

Speech Pathologists evaluate and provide treatment for a wide variety of conditions. Some of the other conditions treated include: fluency (stuttering), speech production (articulation), language (written, spoken, processed, reading, and listening), cognition (memory), and voice (pitch, loudness).

Some examples of speech therapy activities include:

  • Tongue and mouth exercises: Your speech therapist will show you exercises and motions that will strengthen your mouth and tongue. These exercises help train your tongue to move in coordinated patterns.
  • Facial movements: Controlling the expression on your face can help improve your motor skills. Your therapist might have you smile or pucker your lips, then relax your face.
  • Reading out loud: If your speech disorder prevents you from moving your mouth and tongue properly, reading out loud can strengthen the connection between your brain and mouth.
  • Playing word games: Studies have shown that memory games, word searches, and crossword puzzles can maintain cognitive function and improve thinking skills.

Some of the common causes for a need for speech therapy include: stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia, autism, or developmental delays.

Speech therapy offers many life-changing benefits to patients such as: improved self-esteem, increased independence, improved comprehension & expression, enhanced vocal quality, and an overall improved quality of life.