All Posts Tagged: Speech Language Pathology

A Day in the Life of a Speech-Language Pathologist

It can be difficult to fully describe the role of a Speech-language Pathologist, as the rehabilitative work they do throughout their days is extremely varied and complex. In order to give our readers a more accurate idea of what an SLP does, we asked one to tell us a little more about her patient work here at an Ernest Health Hospital, as well as walk us through her activities throughout the day.

EH: Can you share with us what a typical day looks like for you?

SLP: I get to work around 7 or 7:30 a.m. to help patients with using their safe swallow strategies during breakfast.

We have a short staff meeting at 8:00 to quickly discuss appointments, discharge plans, medical complications, etc. I treat patients from 8:30 to 12. I personally have more energy in the morning, so I try to see my patients then and save documentation for the afternoon

I document daily/weekly progress notes during lunch and begin therapy again at 1:00. I have 2-3 sessions in the afternoon, and then I need to write daily/weekly notes. Part of my role in the afternoon is to look at the patients we will have in the evening and which therapists will be coming in for the evening shift and get the patients signed out to a therapist accordingly.

Some of the things that I have to think about as I’m evaluating patients is: Are the patients sticking to their diet? Are they ready for advancement? How are they handling the diet?

EH: What does the majority of your work involve at Ernest Health, and how would you describe the majority of the patients you work with?

SLP: I provide individual sessions and group therapy sessions two days a week. The majority of my patients have cognitive impairments that limit their ability to make safe decisions.

Stroke and head injury are the majority of the causes.

EH: What treatments/therapies do you use to work with your patients at Ernest Health?

SLP: For dysphagia (swallowing issues): I use myofascial release therapy and e-stim (electrical stimulation) modalities.

Myofascial release therapy is a treatment for patients with dysphagia that aims to loosen up muscles in the cervical area to allow for more contraction in swallowing.

E-stim modalities are used for neuromuscular re-education, which is a technique used to help the patient contract the muscles used in swallowing to teach the patient what it should feel like. E-stim machines can be used for a variety of purposes, though, and all depends on the settings (pain management, muscle contractions, etc.).

One of our SLP’s main focuses is keeping the patient safe by educating them and family members on things like locking the wheelchair and using the call light for help. In addition to these practices, she also does her best to find fun and fresh ways to help retrain patients to their former levels of functionality. Using music therapy and technology like iPad games, for instance, allows the patient to learn in a way that feels less like work and more like recreation.

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Her empathy for the patients, dedication, and caring personality are shining examples of the qualities that Ernest Health values in its team members.

EH: Why did you choose Speech-Language Pathology as a career?

SLP: I chose to be an SLP because I wanted a career that would make a positive impact on someone’s life.

My first semester in undergrad, I, by chance, saw a class schedule with a class about Communication Disorders.  I decided to take it and knew from the beginning this was what I wanted to do with my life.

EH: What hobbies or interests do you have?

SLP: I teach fitness classes before and/or after work. My alarm usually goes off at 4:30 so I can fit in my hobbies. My husband and I enjoy traveling, skiing, and fly fishing together.

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Speech-Language Pathology’s Role in Stroke Recovery

Stroke recovery is a complex process that varies from one patient to the next. Because of this, speech-language pathologists play an important role in a stroke patient’s rehabilitation. Last week, we discussed how a speech-language pathologist could help a stroke survivor regain their ability to read. However, with one fourth of stroke patients suffering from language impairments, an SLP usually plays a sizable role in most stroke patient’s recovery. Here are a few of the responsibilities you can expect them to take part in during the recovery process.

They make a plan.

Because every stroke is different, and every patient is different, it is only natural that every recovery plan is different as well. Speech-language pathologists work with their inter-professional team but also work with a patient’s case history and their family to come up with a plan that will work for every individual patient. Creating a successful rehabilitation plan requires an SLP to know the patient medically and personally. A speech-language pathologist’s close involvement throughout the treatment allows them to alter the rehabilitation plan if necessary.

They help patients relearn how to communicate.

Depending on which area of the brain is affected by the stroke, patients may either have difficulty communicating their thoughts through words or writing, or have difficulty understanding spoken or written language. Either way, an SLP’s education equips them with the ability to help both of these conditions. They use different techniques and exercises to help patients circumvent their disabilities such as making symbol cue cards or simply repeating phrases with their patient. All of this is done with the end goal of helping the patient relearn their communication skills or learn new methods of communicating. 

They help patients with self-awareness.

Although speech and language are in the title, speech-language pathologists help with much more than that. SLPs also help stroke patients regain their self-awareness. This can mean anything from helping a patient learn that they don’t swallow all of their food during meals, to learning how to comb their hair. A speech-language pathologist may set up different daily challenges such as basic cleaning, to personal grooming to help a patient recover their self-awareness. These skills will help a stroke survivor’s day to day life become less frustrating as their recovery goes on. 

The extensive duties of a speech-language pathologist in stroke recovery differ with each patient, but for every patient they make an incredible difference. We are committed to bringing the best care to our patients, and because of that, we appreciate the speech-language pathologist on staff!

 

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About Ernest Health

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital is part of Ernest Health. Ernest Health provides specialized medical and rehabilitative services to our patients through our rehabilitation and long-term acute care hospitals. We treat patients who often are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries or illnesses, or from chronic or complex medical conditions.

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Guiding Principles

As our Guiding Principles state, we promote a healing and nurturing environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We are first and foremost passionate patient caregivers and team members, connected at our core by the treatment needs of our patients.

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Our Leadership Team

Our leadership team brings extensive healthcare experience to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. We invite you to meet them and learn more about why they are passionate about healthcare.

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Community Commitment

At Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, we are committed to being good neighbors and responsible corporate citizens in the Casper community.

We do this through not only the healthcare services we provide, but through our philanthropic efforts.

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