The practice of speech-language pathology includes prevention, diagnosis, habilitation, and rehabilitation of communication, swallowing, or other upper aerodigestive disorders; elective modification of communication behaviors; and enhancement of communication. This includes services that address the dimensions of body structure and function, activity, and/or participation as proposed by the World Health Organization model.

Speech-language pathology is the study of disorders that affect a person’s speech, language, cognition, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) or Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) address people’s speech production, vocal production, swallowing difficulties and language needs through speech therapy in a variety of different contexts including schools, hospitals, and through private practice.

Speech Pathology is the rehabilitative or corrective treatment of physical and/or cognitive deficits/disorders resulting in difficulty with communication and/or swallowing.

Communication includes speech (articulation, intonation, rate, intensity), language (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics), both receptive and expressive language (including reading and writing), and non-verbal communication such as facial expression and gesture. Swallowing problems managed under speech therapy are problems in the oral, laryngeal, and/or pharyngeal stages of swallowing (not oesophageal).

Depending on the nature and severity of the disorder, common treatments may range from physical strengthening exercises, instructive or repetitive practice and drilling, to the use of audio-visual aids and introduction of strategies to facilitate functional communication. Speech therapy may also include sign language and the use of picture symbols (Diehl 2003).

Speech therapists are also trained to assess, treat and manage swallowing difficulties.

The practice is called:

• Speech-language pathology (SLP) in the United States and Canada
• Speech and language therapy (SLT) in the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa
• Speech pathology in Australia
• Speech-language therapy in New Zealand
• Other terms in use include speech therapy, logopaedics and phoniatrics.

It is the medical research and treatment of organs involved with speech production. In general terms, the speech organs are the mouth, throat (larynx), the vocal cords and lungs. Problems treated in phoniatrics include dysfunction of the vocal cords, cancer in the vocal cords or larynx, incapability to control the speech organs properly (speech disorders), and vocal loading related problems.

In the United States, practitioners are trained in Speech Pathology training programs. While the field is an allied health field, the practitioners are not physicians but rather known specifically as speech pathologists. Speech pathologists work with patients with speech disorders from a wide variety of causes and also deal with disorders of swallowing. They also assist in the diagnosis of laryngeal dysfunction including hoarseness, and have helped define and identify the role of esophageal reflux disease in a number of patients. Examples of patients treated by Speech Pathologists include children with speech disorders, adults after laryngectomy, patients with swallowing disorders from neurological disease, and performers with laryngeal problems.

In the past, stuttering was viewed as a psychological problem, but that view has been discarded.

Courtesy of Wikipedia