This May, the staff at The Brian Center of Durham celebrated Better Hearing and Speech Month -- an awareness effort by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to educate the public about the early signs of communication disorders and how early detection can help. This special month also aims to educate people about the available treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking, understanding, or hearing. Many of our patients at The Brian Center of Durham say, “Well there's nothing wrong with my speech.” That may very well be the case, but speech therapy covers a wide range of disorders. In addition to speech and language disorders, speech therapists also address swallowing disorders, known as dysphagia.

What is dysphagia?

Those who suffer from dysphagia have pain or difficulty swallowing. This causes eating to be a challenge and makes it difficult to intake enough calories and fluids to nourish the body, which can lead to additional serious medical problems. Dysphagia occurs when there is a problem with the neural control or any of the structures involved in the swallowing process. This can be caused by a stroke or other nervous system disorder, cancer surgery around the throat, or disorders of the esophagus.

There are many therapeutic techniques that help promote safe swallowing and decrease the risk of developing complications from a swallowing impairment. Speech therapists also provide therapy to individuals who demonstrate changes in cognition, which is higher level language such as memory, problem solving, and thought organization. All of these processes allow us to function safely in our everyday environment. 

Our treatment options

The Brian Center of Durham has three full-time speech therapists who specialize in the treatment of speech/language disorders, cognitive impairment, and dysphagia. Our Speech Therapy department also provides specialty services such as VitalStim Therapy for dysphagia and Lee Silverman Voice Therapy (LSVT) for voice disorders. 

  • VitalStim Therapy is a unique physical stimulation system that uses gentle electrical stimulation on the front of the patient’s neck. 
  • LSVT is designed to increase the strength of the laryngeal muscles, allowing for the voice to project and articulation to improve with more vocal muscle control. 

Learn more about our speech therapy services or contact us at 919-226-4314 for more information!