Speech And Language Therapist
The Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) is responsible for the assessment, diagnosis and management of both communication and swallowing difficulties. Difficulties with speech and language vary from person to person and do not affect everybody. The speech and language therapist works with the individual to identify specific difficulties with communication and swallowing and to determine how best to deal with them.
Difficulties with speech can include slurring, slow rate, weak voice or nasal-sounding speech. In addition, sometimes cognition can be affected which can cause problems with language, leading to difficulties understanding speech and in conveying messages. Fatigue and poor breathing patterns can also compound the problems.
Speech and language therapy aims to maximise the person's ability to communicate within his/her environment. The focus may be on the speech itself and/or the person's environment or those in it. In some cases, where speech is particularly difficult to understand, people with MS may wish to use another form of communication.
When a person develops MS, the muscles that control swallowing may also be affected. Assessment will entail a clinical test and sometimes the use of x-ray equipment to view any difficulty as it occurs.
These assessments allow the speech and language therapist to identify the factors that are making swallowing more difficult and less safe. Therapy is aimed at preventing/minimising food and fluid entering the lungs as this can cause chest complications.