May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, which honors speech-language pathologists for their excellent care for patients with communication, speech and swallowing disorders. This year’s theme is “Communication at Work,” signifying the importance of effective communication in the workplace between clinicians and with patients.
What does a speech-language pathologist do?
Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, are tasked with meeting the needs of patients who have difficulty communicating or are having trouble eating and drinking to maintain their nutritional needs. SLPs assess swallowing functions and communication abilities, then develop patient-centered treatment plans for rehabilitation. SLPs serve as an integral part of interdisciplinary teams to treat the whole person, facilitate the patient’s safe recovery and improve the patient’s quality of life.
What has changed for SLPs during COVID-19?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of an SLP is even more essential in ensuring effective and safe communication. SLPs have stepped up to the challenge, relying on their clinical judgement, communication from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and recommendations from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in order to continue to provide quality care throughout these unprecedented times.
The release of airborne particles naturally occurs during speech and more forcefully when coughing, which can occur with difficulty swallowing. SLPs who frequently perform aerosol-generating procedures on patients have donned additional personal protective equipment, or PPE, when treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
Patients with COVID-19 typically have difficulty breathing, which in turn can impact their ability to safely eat and drink. Some of these patients, including those with tracheostomies, may require mechanical ventilation, which can have negative impacts on the vocal cords essential to swallowing and voice.
Now more than ever, UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North celebrate our speech-language pathologists for all that they do to improve communication, not just at work, but in all aspects of their patients’ lives.
Visit UFHealthJax.org/rehabilitation-services to learn more about speech-language pathology services offered at UF Health Jacksonville.