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Neurological speech and language therapy

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“I believe that by taking speech and language therapy out of a clinical setting into real-life situations, it can be more relaxed and therefore more effective for the individual.” – Trudi Jenkins

Specialist neurological speech and language therapy is crucial to the rehabilitation and well-being of people with acquired brain injury and other neurological disorders.

Trudi Jenkins

By supporting them with communication, it helps them to re-connect with themselves and recall who they are. It helps them to manage their social roles and re-connect with their loved ones.

In addition, speech and language therapy helps people to communicate their needs and engage in other aspects of their rehabilitation.

Specialist neurological speech and language therapist, Trudi Jenkins, who is part of the multi-disciplinary clinical care team (MDT) at Richardson Care, explains her role in working with adults with neurological disorders.

These may be as a result of an acquired or traumatic brain injury, a stroke, neurodegenerative disease, learning disability or a combination of factors.

In this video, Trudi explains that by working together, the MDT ensures a holistic and co-ordinated approach to meet the specific needs of each individual.

She also demonstrates how she builds rapport with her clients and uses different techniques to aid communication.

 

The Role of the Neurological Speech and Language Therapist

The role of the speech and language therapist in the rehabilitation of adults following neurological injury is two-fold:

  1. To support people with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) to ensure that food and drink isn’t going to put them at risk. This may involve a consistency modified diet, exercises and/or compensatory strategies to reduce the risk of aspiration.
  2. To support people with communication. This includes addressing motor speech disorders, language processing difficulties and/or cognitive difficulties as a result of a brain injury or neurological issue.

Stage one: Assessment

The first stage in provision of speech and language therapy is assessment.

Trudi conducts a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the individual’s communication and swallowing abilities.

involves assessing speech production, language comprehension and expression, cognitive-communication skills, voice and oral motor function. 

Stage two: Diagnosis

The second stage is diagnosis.

Based on the assessment, Trudi makes a diagnosis of the communication and swallowing disorders present. She considers the type and location of the brain injury and its impact on various communication functions.

Stage three: Treatment plan

In association with colleagues in the multi-disciplinary team, Trudi then prepares an individual treatment plan.

By coming to decisions as part of a team, they aim to provide a treatment plan that best meets the needs of the individual, and to develop strategies to help them reach their potential.

Functional communication

Trudi explains: “The aim of the treatment plan is to support the service user to increase their functional communication.

“This means helping them to get their basic needs across; to communication how they’re feeling and to communicate who they are.

“This is crucial in enabling the person to have a sense of who they are.

“This involves support with the underlying speech impairment, so that they are more able to produce the words and put sentences together.

“It also involves supporting someone at a conversational level –  this could involve using props, writing down words, drawing sketches on paper, or using digital devices.

“It is encouraging the person to communicate with any means possible.

“Speech and language therapy is crucial in helping people to communicate their basic needs, to manage their social roles and their relationships.

“It helps them to recall who they are. It’s also about understanding what someone else is saying and conversing with that person.”

Stage four: Review

Trudi continues: “I use goal-focussed interventions over specific blocks of time (for example, 12 weeks) so that the therapy can be reviewed on a regular basis and goals can be achieved one step at a time.

“This helps to maintain engagement and motivation, and so that the individual feels encouraged by their achievement, rather than overwhelmed by the task ahead.” 

Communication sphere

“It’s important to address the individual’s communication sphere, or environment, which means incorporating their family, friends and care staff to enhance communication and understanding on a daily basis. 

“I use both low-tech and high-tech communication aids, depending on the individual’s needs.

“An important part of my role is to provide training  to care staff to enable them to support service users with their speech and communication development on a daily basis.”

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