Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) are trained professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating communication disorders. “Issues with the voice and voice quality can not only impair immediate communication needs but may even affect one’s employment or quality of life,” according to Kimberly Brownell, CCC-SLP, a clinical voice pathologist and manager of the Speech Pathology Department, ENT and Allergy Associates. “Voice issues may be caused by a variety of factors, including some medical conditions, temporary vocal misuse, or job demands leading to vocal overuse, as in the case of teachers or customer service representatives,” she said.
SLPs who specialize in voice disorders can also address chronic cough and breathing-related issues, some of which may be associated with reflux or even long COVID. A voice-specialized SLP can help individuals learn how to better care for their voice and improve voice quality for better communication, personal relationships, and overall well-being.
In addition to providing voice therapy, a trained SLP can also address changes in swallowing that may occur due to age, neurological or other medical conditions, or injury. “Swallow safety is important to address early in order to maintain optimal nutrition for at-risk patients and prevent illnesses, such as aspiration pneumonia. Swallow safety strategies given at the time of an in-office evaluation can be incredibly helpful for the health of the patient.”
In this exclusive interview, DocWire News spoke with Ms. Brownell about the importance of SLPs and how they can help treat communication disorders and address chronic cough and breathing-related issues.