Speech therapy

Communication and swallowing are two of life's most important tasks.

The licensed speech-language pathologists at Edward-Elmhurst Health have helped countless adults and children regain or master speech skills and swallowing functionality.

What makes us different?

  • Clinical expertise in treating a variety of disorders related to speech, language, swallowing and voice
  • One-on-one treatments with the same therapist each session
  • All treatments are provided by a licensed therapist

Treatments aim to:

  • Improve communication
  • Improve the ability to process information
  • Improve reading skills
  • Improve writing skills
  • Train conversational partners
  • Strengthen muscles involved in swallowing
  • Introduce strategies to improve memory

Speech and swallowing therapies

We help people of all ages improve communication, thinking and problem-solving skills. Individuals who experience difficulty or discomfort with swallowing also benefit from our services.

We have extensive experience helping patients with:

Aphasia

Aphasia is a language disorder where a person experiences difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding language. Aphasia can be caused by stroke or traumatic injury to the brain and includes a variety of types based on the where the injury occurred.

Learn about cognitive therapy for asphasia.

Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

If an individual has difficulty or is unable to communicate through verbal, written or gestural means, alternative methods may be required to facilitate communication. AAC uses tools that provide support to such individuals in order to make communication more effective. AAC users have a variety of diagnoses, including: ALS, cancer, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, stroke, etc.

Dementia and memory impairments

Dementia is a group of symptoms related to memory loss and overall cognitive impairment. Most types of dementias continue to worsen and are usually irreversible. Alzheimer's disease is the most common and well-studied cause of dementia, affecting up to 70 percent of those diagnosed with dementia. People with dementia often need help taking care of themselves. They may have difficulty communicating with others. Everyday activities, such as grooming, preparing meals and driving, may become difficult.

Learn about cognitive therapy for dementia.

Fluency disorders

Fluency disorders occur when the flow of fluent, "natural" speech is disrupted by various behaviors. A commonly known fluency disorder is stuttering. The etiology of fluency disorders is not exactly known. Fluency disorders may come about due to developmental, psychogenic or neurological factors.

Motor speech disorders

Motor speech disorders include dysarthria and apraxia of speech and result from problems with the brain’s connection to the parts of the body required for speech. Motor speech disorders have varied etiologies including stroke, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, ALS, etc.

Pediatric speech and swallowing therapy

For children, proper development of speech and language skills is essential to learning, interacting with others and communicating their needs. Proper nutrition is critical to brain development and overall growth.

If you have concerns regarding your child's ability to use sounds and words to communicate with others, to be understood when speaking, to understand others, or to successfully swallow a variety of foods, our specialists can help.

Children with the following diagnoses can benefit from pediatric speech therapy:

  • Speech and language delays and disorders
  • Articulation and phonological disorders
  • Voice disorders
  • Stuttering
  • Brain injury
  • Autism
  • Swallowing and feeding impairments
  • AAC

We also provide follow-up therapy to babies who’ve been in the NICU.

Our caring speech and language therapists work closely with your child’s teachers, school therapists and doctors to coordinate sessions that address your child's specific needs and build skills for daily living. Our treatment rooms are specially designed for children and at some locations offer an observation area with headsets and one-way mirrors.

Learn more about pediatric rehabilitation services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Stroke

Stroke can cause deficits in swallowing, communication and cognition.

Speech-language pathologists can assist with retraining strength and coordination of muscles in the mouth and throat to improve ease and safety with swallowing. They also assist with slurred speech (dysarthria), difficulty producing speech correctly (aphasia), and/or difficulty programming muscle control for speech production (apraxia). Additionally, speech therapists can help with difficulties in attention, awareness, orientation, memory, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Neurological speech therapy aims to:

  • Improve communication
  • Improve the ability to process information
  • Improve reading skills
  • Improve writing skills
  • Train conversational partners
  • Strengthen muscles involved in swallowing
  • Implement of specific programs
  • Introduce strategies to improve memory

Learn more about stroke care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Swallowing disorders

Swallowing disorders include: difficulty chewing, controlling, and retaining food in the mouth; residue in the mouth or throat; a wet/gurgled voice after swallowing; and/or consistent throat-clearing, coughing, or choking when eating. Aspiration is a main concern related to dysphagia. It occurs when food or liquid enters the airway and potentially makes its way to the lungs. Aspiration is concerning because it can result in pneumonia.

Dysphagia treatment addresses safety of oral intake by targeting use of aspiration precautions, compensatory swallowing strategies, and muscle strengthening exercises. Edward-Elmhurst Health offers VitalStim Therapy which utilizes electrical stimulation to supplement swallowing exercises for appropriate patients. Swallowing disorders can occur due to dementia, head and neck cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease (learn about LSVT BIG and LOUD for Parkinson's disease), etc.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) / Concussion

Traumatic brain injury occurs when someone experiences either a blow or penetrating injury to the head. TBI can result in cognitive deficits affecting concentration, memory and problem-solving, which in turn can negatively impact participation in daily routines. Speech and swallowing may also be affected as a result of TBI.

A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain that can cause neurometabolic changes in the brain. This is often not visualized through MRI or CT Scan. Approximately 1-4 million sport related concussions occur each year in the United States. Although approximately 80 percent of individuals recover within 3 weeks, 20 percent of athletes take over 3 weeks to recover.

Speech-language pathologists perform a cognitive-linguistic evaluation focused on:

  • Verbal and visual memory
  • Processing speed
  • Attention
  • Executive functioning skills

After a concussion, speech therapy aims to:

  • Provide recommendations and strategies to support academics
  • Provide strategies for improving normal daily activities
  • Improve cognitive-linguistic skills related to individual weaknesses identified during the evaluation

Learn about cognitive therapy to help with cognitive deficits after a TBI.

Voice disorders

Voice disorders refer to changes in vocal quality that interfere with a person’s ability to speak clearly and comfortably. Symptoms can include hoarseness, changes in pitch, excessively quiet/loud voice, fatigue when speaking, strained speech and more. Voice disorders can result from behaviors such as consistent throat-clearing, smoking, and excessive speaking to name a few. They can also be due to infections/viruses, reflux or cancer.

Edward-Elmhurst Health offers LSVT Loud, which is an effective speech treatment for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions that may cause changes in vocal quality and speech intelligibility.