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Release Date: 05/22/2019

Rhode Island residents are encouraged to learn the signs and seek help this Better Hearing & Speech Month.

With speech, language, and swallowing disorders common following stroke, head and neck cancer, and a variety of other illnesses and injuries in adults, speech-language pathologists at Kent Hospital encourage residents to learn the signs and seek an evaluation if they have concerns about themselves or a loved one. This is a timely message, as May is recognized nationally as Better Hearing & Speech Month.

Speech and language problems in adults can result from various causes. They include brain injury, stroke, and diseases that affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. They can also stem from breathing problems, cancers in the head and/or neck region, and voice damage.

Speech and language disorders that can be acquired in adulthood include aphasia (difficulty speaking, understanding, reading, or writing), cognitive-communication disorders (difficulty paying attention, remembering, and solving problems), apraxia of speech (planning motor movements for speech), dysarthria (difficulty producing speech clearly), and voice disorders (changes in pitch, loudness, and quality of speech).  

“May is a time to spotlight speech and swallowing disorders, called dysphagia, which are treated by speech-language pathologists,” said Courtney Krupa, MS, CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist at The Rehabilitation Center of Kent Hospital. “Dysphagia is another common side effect of numerous diseases in adults. A person’s ability to eat and drink is critical to maintaining good health and promoting recovery from illness. Food is also a central part of many social experiences – contributing to an enjoyable and fulfilling life. Treatment can be truly transformative to a person’s quality of life and overall health.”

In addition to speech and language disorders, speech-language pathologists also evaluate and treat dysphagia, or swallowing disorders. Dysphagia is another common side effect of numerous diseases and disorders in adults. Speech-language pathologists assist patients in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders to identify strategies and modifications to make swallowing safer.  

“Many people may not appreciate their ability to communicate until it’s lost,” said Geena Goyette, MS, CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist at Care New England’s Outpatient Rehabilitation center in East Greenwich. “From having your basic needs met to nurturing relationships and earning a living, communication is at the core. Everyone deserves to have a voice and to be heard.”

Speech-language pathologists treat dysphagia in various ways, including:
•  Helping people use their muscles to chew and swallow
•  Finding better positions for people to sit or hold their head while eating
•  Identifying strategies to make swallowing better and safer
•  Advising people on their dietary choices, including softer foods or thicker drinks

The Speech-Language Pathologists at Kent Hospital offer patient-centered care through specialized treatment options and individualized approaches. Kent’s rehabilitation team aids in restoring independence and maximizing function following injury, illness, or disability which has impacted communication, thinking, swallowing, or voice. To schedule an assessment, contact The Rehabilitation Center of Kent Hospital at (401) 736-4658.

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About Kent Hospital

Kent Hospital, a Care New England Hospital, is a 359-bed, acute care hospital. It is Rhode Island’s second largest hospital, serving approximately 300,000 residents of central Rhode Island.

A teaching affiliate of The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kent offers programs in Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and an Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship. Kent’s redesigned Emergency Department (ED) sees approximately 70,000 patients a year and ranks Kent’s ED volume among the top 10-percent nationally. It was the first hospital in the state to eliminate the practice of ambulance diversion.

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Jim Beardsworth
P: (401) 737-7010, ext. 31395