• Communication, swallowing disorders common in adults following stroke, other illness

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    May 22, 2019

    Aspirus encourages learning the signs, seeking help this Better Hearing & Speech Month


    Wisconsin Rapids, WI – Speech, language, and swallowing disorders are common following a stroke, head and neck cancer, and a variety of other illnesses and injuries in adults. Each May, Better Hearing and Speech Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about how important it is to learn the signs – and seek an evaluation – if you have concerns about yourself or a loved one.


    “People do not realize how important communication is until they lose the ability,” said Tim Moldenhauer, Speech-Language Pathologist with Aspirus Riverview Therapies in Wisconsin Rapids.  “It is very rewarding to help people regain their ability to communication after loss from an illness or injury.”


    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 may be acquired in adulthood include the following:

    ·         Aphasia. This involves problems speaking, understanding, reading, writing, telling time, and/or using numbers. Often misunderstood, aphasia does not affect a person’s intelligence. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke.

    ·         Cognitive-communication disorders. Problems with thinking and communication can affect one another. Some examples are difficulty paying attention, remembering, organizing thoughts, and solving problems.

    ·         Apraxia of speech. Speech difficulties arise from problems planning motor movements. It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that are involved in speaking.

    ·         Dysarthria. Speech difficulties (such as slurred speech) due to weakness of muscles involved in breathing and/or speaking.

    ·         Voice disorders. Changes in pitch, loudness, and vocal quality that negatively impact communication. These may result from nodules on the vocal cord, overuse/misuse of voice (such as yelling), diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, and other causes. 


    May is also a time to spotlight swallowing disorders, called dysphagia, which are also treated by a speech-language pathologist. Dysphagia is another common side effect of numerous diseases in adults.


    “Eating and drinking is very important to people as it is something we do every day,” said Moldenhauer. “When the ability to swallow is impaired or lost it is very difficult to manage. Helping people through the process of regaining or improving their swallowing ability is something that makes my job fulfilling.”


    Dysphagia is treated in a variety of ways, including these

    • 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.


    If yourself or a loved one has concerns about a speech, language, or swallowing disorder, talk to your primary care provider about a referral for an evaluation. You can also call Aspirus Riverview Therapies in Wisconsin Rapids at 715.424.8500 with any questions. 





    About Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics

    Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics is a non-profit, community health care organization based in Wisconsin Rapids. Aspirus Riverview Hospital has been recognized as a top 100 community and rural hospital in the country for four consecutive years, and Aspirus was recently named one of the top 15 health care systems in the nation.


    Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics employs approximately 875 people and includes Aspirus Riverview Hospital, Aspirus Doctors Clinic & Walk-In Care, Aspirus Riverview Clinics in Wisconsin Rapids, Nekoosa, Rome and Adams, Aspirus Heart & Vascular, Aspirus UW Cancer Center, Aspirus Riverview Wound & Hyperbarics, Aspirus Riverview Joint Center, Aspirus Riverview Therapies, Aspirus Riverview Behavioral Health and Aspirus Riverview Dental. To learn more about Aspirus, visit aspirus.org