ONE Rehab Speech-Language Pathology Services
CRMC's ONE Rehab speech-language pathology department is proud to provide evaluation and treatment services on an outpatient basis for patients in our community.
What is Speech-Language Pathology?
Speech-language pathologists work with people who have communication and/or swallowing disorders which can limit a person's ability to communicate with others.
A speech-language pathologist is a specialist in communication and swallowing disorders. All speech-language pathologists at CRMC have a Master's Degree, a state license awarded by the Alabama Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology and a Certificate of Clinical Competence awarded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
CRMC's ONE Rehab is proud to have Speech Language Pathologist, Bettina J. Weldon, MS, CCC-SLP available to provide services to the community. Weldon has been a speech-language pathologist for 10 years. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala. and began her career at Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina and later at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Spain Rehabilitation Center. Most recently, Weldon served as a speech pathologist at Cullman Long Term Care and Rehab (The Folsom Center) for six years. She has experience in a variety of settings, including inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation, acute care, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare and adult psychiatric hospitals. She is a certified Vital-Stim provider, which is a specialized treatment method for swallowing disorders. Weldon’s specialties include evaluation and treatment of adults with swallowing disorders, motor speech disorders and aphasia, a language disorder that results from damage to the brain. Weldon is a native of Sylacauga, Alabama and in her spare time she enjoys traveling, cooking and being outdoors.
At CRMC, our speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat speech, language, cognitive, voice, oral motor and swallowing deficits.
Patients who have a neurological disease such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) or who have had a traumatic brain injury, may have difficulty communicating or swallowing.
Speech, Language and Cognitive Deficits
When someone suffers a stroke or traumatic brain injury, they will be hospitalized and, when medically stable, may benefit from outpatient speech therapy services. Often, patients who have had any trauma or neurological diseases have difficulty with their thinking skills, known as cognitive deficits. Patients may have issues with problem solving, completing tasks in the correct order, remembering daily events, following directions or paying attention to tasks.
Aphasia occurs when a person who has a stroke or traumatic brain injury has difficulty understanding what is said or what they read. They may have trouble expressing their thoughts or writing down their thoughts. The speech-language pathologist will help the patient regain communication skills through a variety of treatment methods. The speech-language pathologist will also teach the family members how to help their loved one communicate.
Dysarthria occurs when a person has suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury and have difficulty forming words if the muscles in the mouth are not working well. Sometimes the muscles are working well, but the message from the brain to the mouth gets disrupted, causing an apraxia. This is characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements.
Additionally, some patients have problems with memory which can have many causes such as dementia (Alzheimer's Disease, Lewy Bodies, Korsakoff's syndrome, etc.), stroke, Parkinson's Disease or other neurological diseases. If the problem is mostly difficulty thinking of names of people and things and trouble expressing ideas, the speech-language pathologist may be able to provide some treatment to help address the problems. Sometimes the therapist will work with the patient and their family to teach strategies for coping with memory loss.
Patients can experience hoarseness or other problems with their voice that can be caused by an injury, polyps, nodules, over-use of the voice or even paralysis of the vocal folds. Voice therapy can help the patient learn how to use the voice muscles appropriately and eliminate the hoarseness. Exercises can help strengthen the vocal muscles so that the voice does not get tired when the patient has to talk a lot.
Swallowing Problems (Dysphagia)
Dysphagia can result from neurological diseases, surgery, radiation therapy or can occur without an obvious cause. Swallowing is a complex act requiring the coordination of many nerves and muscles. The speech-language pathologist can assess the different phases of the swallow to determine what the difficulty may be. The therapist evaluates the patient's swallowing function with various consistencies of food and liquids. If the therapist determines that the patient may have difficulty, a more in-depth procedure is conducted. This procedure is called the Modified Barium Swallow Study and is completed by the speech-language pathologist in conjunction with a radiologist.
The Modified Barium Swallow Study
is a moving picture x-ray that shows how the muscles in the throat are working and whether the food and liquid are going to the stomach or if some is falling into the airway. A serious consequence of food or liquid getting into the airway is aspiration pneumonia. If the patient has food or liquid moving into the airway, dysphagia therapy may be indicated.
At Cullman Regional Medical Center, all Speech-Language Pathologists are certified in neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). NMES involves the administration of small, electrical impulses to the swallowing muscles in the throat, through electrodes attached to the skin overlaying the musculature. NMES is used in conjunction with traditional swallowing exercises to achieve maximum swallowing function. As an added bonus, all patients receiving dysphagia therapy are provided with a free meal during their therapy session!
Physician Referral is Required for Speech Therapy Services
If you think you or someone you love could benefit from Speech-Language Pathology Services, ask your doctor for a referral to CRMC's ONE Rehab Speech Therapy Services.
For more information about outpatient speech therapy services, call (256) 737-2271.