Acute Care Speech and Language Pathology

Acute Care Speech Language PathologySpeech-language pathologists assess, diagnose, and treat oral motor, swallowing, cognitive-linguistic, speech, voice, and language disorders that may result from a disease or accident, or from an exacerbation of an already existing impairment or disease. They use clinical examination, instrumental technology, and standardized assessments to diagnose disorders and generate treatment plans tailored to the patient’s needs.

The Role of Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists work to develop swallowing strategies and implement strengthening activities to improve the coordination and strength necessary to safely swallow. They also treat communication deficits such as trouble understanding speech, trouble speaking, and cognitive impairments that affect problem solving, memory, and higher level thinking skills.

In addition, speech-language pathologists educate patients, family members and caregivers regarding impairments, disease processes, and compensatory strategies. Further, they participate in interdisciplinary collaborations with other members of the rehabilitation team to assist in determining a safe discharge plan to the next level of care for each patient, such as home services, or outpatient therapy as needed.

Speech and Language Services for Children and Teens

In the pediatric acute medical care setting, speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose, and treat oral motor, swallowing, cognitive-linguistic, and speech-language disorders in children from birth to adolescence. Children may be born with these difficulties or acquire them as a result of an illness, accident or trauma. In addition, the speech-language pathologist participates in interdisciplinary collaboration to assist in determining a safe plan of care during a child’s hospitalization as well as upon discharge.

The acute care pediatric speech-language pathologist may work with children who have:
  • Dysphagia (swallowing or feeding problems)
  • Tracheostomy and ventilator dependence
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cognitive-communication disorders (attention/memory)
  • Complex medical conditions or genetic disorders 
  • Craniofacial anomalies
  • Neurological disorders
  • Language delays/disorders
  • Oral-motor impairment
  • Motor speech disorders (apraxia, dysarthria)
  • Voice disorders
  • Articulation/phonological disorders
  • Autism and pervasive developmental disorders
Speech-language pathologists may also conduct specialized assessments, including:
  • Modified barium swallow/videofluoroscopic swallow study (MBS/VFSS) 
  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallow (FEES) assessments
  • One-way speaking valve evaluations
  • Augmentative/alternative communication evaluations

Learn more about rehabilitation therapy services for children and teens.