Speech Therapy | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

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Speech therapy services at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Speech Therapy at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

What is speech therapy?

In speech therapy, speech therapists treat language and communication issues and help recover communication abilities in both children and adults. Furthermore, speech therapists are able to help individuals with voice deficits, swallowing and eating.

Who needs speech therapy?

Both children and adults can benefit from speech therapy. Whether it's something a child is born with or the result of an injury, speech therapists treat persons of all ages.

Blank Children's Hospital offers a full range of therapy services for inpatient and outpatient care for infants, children and teens who have an injury, developmental condition or illness. Their services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and audiology.

Speech Therapy for Children

A child may need speech therapy for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Weak oral muscles
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Motor problems
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Articulation, fluency or feeding disorders (see below)

Speech Disorders Commonly Found in Children

When someone says speech disorder, it means there is a problem with the actual production of sounds. Below are common speech disorders:

  • Articulation Disorders. When a person has an articulation disorder, he or she has difficulties producing sounds in syllables or they say words incorrectly to the point where those to whom they are speaking have a difficult time understanding them.
  • Voice Disorders. Voice disorders are often problems with pitch, volume of speech or the quality of voice.
  • Fluency Disorders. If an individual has a fluency disorder, it's more commonly referred to as stuttering. The flow of speech is interrupted by word stoppages, partial-word repetitions or prolonging sounds in a word.

Language Disorders

In terms of language disorders, there are two types: receptive and expressive disorders:

  • Receptive Disorders. This refers to a person's difficulties processing language.
  • Expressive Disorders. A person with an expressive disorder struggles to put words together, has a limited vocabulary and cannot use language in an appropriate way.

Feeding Disorders

If a person has been diagnosed with a feeding disorder, he or she has problems chewing, swallowing, gagging, coughing and refusing to eat.

Speech Disorders Found in Adults

  • Stuttering. When a person has a stutter, they have a disruption in the way he or she makes speech sounds.
  • Voice. At some point, we've all experienced a time when our voice didn't want to work. Whether it's allergies, exposure to irritants, a cold, you name it, we've experienced a hoarse voice. There are voice disorders, like vocal cord nodules, vocal cord paralysis and paradoxical vocal fold movement.
  • Apraxia. This is a motor speech disorder where the message from the brain to the mouth is interrupted, and the person cannot move their lips or tongue to make the right sounds.
  • Dysarthria. Dysarthria is when a person has muscle weakness that affects their speech production.

Adults and Language Disorders

In adults, aphasia is a language disorder that is the result of damage to parts of the brain that contain language. This language disorder can cause difficulties with speaking, listening, writing or reading, but does not affect a person's intelligence.

Medical Conditions that Affect Speech

There are medical conditions that can hinder a person's speech capabilities. Some of those conditions include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Dementia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect when I meet with a speech pathologist?

Before determining a treatment plan, a speech-language pathologist will perform an assessment. Treatment plans will vary depending on whether it's a speech or swallowing disorder.

Once a treatment plan has been tailored to fit the person's needs, the speech-language pathologist will have the individual perform different exercises and techniques to strengthen the throat for swallowing disorders.

Is there a difference between an adult and pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP)?

Yes, an SLP usually works with the pediatric or adult population. While they are often trained in both, these areas are typically separate. A pediatric SLP may work on, but is not limited to, areas that may affect a child's development such as speaking, understanding, social skills and problem-solving. They also can work on swallowing and feeding issues due to medical conditions. The adult population can be seen for a variety of diagnoses including, but not limited to, strokes, traumatic brain injury, concussion, swallowing difficulties, brain tumors, head and neck surgeries or after chemotherapy. Reasons to be referred to an adult speech therapist might include memory problems, difficulty pronouncing or finding the right words, swallowing and eating issues, problems with reading, writing or problem-solving. Voice problems include raspy voice or too soft to be heard.

What types of exercises do patients partake in during speech therapy?

Each program is individualized for each patient's diagnosis. We treat a variety of diagnoses including swallowing and eating problems, cognitive problems and voice deficit problems. An exercise/home program is set up to address each patient's problem. An individualized program may include performing homework in reading articles and answering questions, puzzles, researching a topic, speaking to family members or other healthcare professionals. A patient may be given tools to assist them in their daily life. For example, a memory notebook, a picture book to help identify needs or other specialized communication devices if they are unable to verbalize.

What can a patient expect from the first appointment through treatment?

The first visit is an evaluation. This would include a health history, testing and goal setting. Treatment sessions will include tasks specific to the patient's goals, practice of skills and review of previous sessions' homework. Often patient's family members are asked to be a part of the session so they can give the correct cues/terms used to facilitate patient's response.

How long does treatment last (with the acknowledgment that every individual is different)?

45 minutes, as these are 1:1. It is important to be on time to get the most from your session.

Is there anything unique about the Speech and Language Pathologists at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines?

Speech therapists in the outpatient clinics can address most adult disorders in speech, language, cognition and swallowing. Various Speech and Language Pathologists have expertise in mild cognitive deficits, voice, language processing and swallowing. We have the Regional Adult Dysphagia Clinic which completes outpatient videofluoroscopic swallowing assessments. We are an integral part of the growing concussion clinic. An SLP participates in outpatient clinics for ALS.

Speech Therapy Services at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

We offer speech therapy services for both children and adults at our convenient locations throughout the Des Moines metro. You can find speech therapy at:

Additional Resources

Speech Therapy for Adults

Adults experience speech and language problems for a variety of reasons. Read more here!