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National Speech-Language-Hearing Month Shines a Light on Communication Disorders

May 16, 2024

Tufts Medicine’s speech-language pathologists raise awareness of communication disorders during National Speech-Language-Hearing Month

Speech-language pathologists from Tufts Medicine

According to the NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 1 in 12 U.S. children ages 3 to 17 has experienced a disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing in the past 12 months. The NIDCD also report that 1 in 6 adults have difficulty swallowing.

Each May, National Speech-Language-Hearing Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and how speech-language pathologists can provide life-altering treatment and relief.

Tufts Medicine's speech-language pathology team works with patients on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, treating patients whose ability to communicate has been impacted by major events, including:

Courtney Lynch, M.S. CCC-SLP is the Clinical Supervisor of Speech-Language Pathology at Tufts Medical Center. Here, the team sees an average of 50 inpatient adults and 14 neonatal cases a day, as well as about 18 patients a week in their outpatient clinic.

"A lot of people don't understand the breadth of services our team provides to patients. Often, our patients have life-changing illnesses or trauma that leave them without the ability to speak or swallow, and our job is to teach them to adjust and adapt. We serve as part of a multidisciplinary team and collaborate with ENT, Neurology, Neurosurgery, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pulmonology, Cardiology and others to ensure the best care possible for our patients," says Lynch.

The team works with patients to evaluate swallowing disorders, establish goals of care regarding hydration and nutrition, as well as performing a variety of swallowing tests for evaluation. Some outpatient services include cognitive/linguistic speech evaluations, training on prosthetic voice devices, treatment for head and neck lymphedema, speech evaluations and/or treatments, and more. 

"We have some patients that have really gone through some hard emotional journeys, whether it be losing their voice, or being able to eat as they did before," says Lynch. "Some are with us for life, and it is an honor to be with them during their journey."


Learn more about our speech-language pathology services

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