Speech Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

March 25, 2015

Speech Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
Jaime Richardson provides
Speech Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

Many people recognize that multiple sclerosis can result in weakness that interferes with the ability to walk.  But did you know that multiple sclerosis can result in weakness of muscles that control speech and swallowing?  Just like physical therapy can help with walking, speech therapy for multiple sclerosis can help with changes in voice, speech and swallowing.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates 25 to 40 percent of people with multiple sclerosis have difficulty with speech, voice and swallowing.  Speech problems include unclear articulation of words, slurred speech, difficulty controlling loudness (dysarthria), and changes in voice quality such as hoarseness, breathiness, nasality (dysphonia).  Swallowing problems include coughing or choking when eating and feeling like food is lodged in the throat.  Multiple sclerosis can damage the nerves in areas that control these functions and problems are most likely to occur during MS relapses or periods of extreme fatigue.  If problems with swallowing aren't corrected, malnutrition or dehydration can result. Lung infections or aspiration pneumonia are other possible consequences of swallowing dysfunction.

Speech Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

Speech therapy for multiple sclerosis focuses on improving the strength, endurance and coordination of the mouth and throat muscles.  Speech therapy may be helpful if weak facial muscles or lesions (damaged areas in the brain) have affected your ability to talk or swallow.

Speech therapy for multiple sclerosis is tailored to the specific MS symptoms of each patient and speech therapists use various techniques to help MS patients, including:

  • Oral exercises including exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the throat, tongue, cheeks, mouth, and lips.
  • Voice training including teaching patients how to slow down, articulate more carefully when speaking, sometimes by exaggerating articulation, and control and modify breathing
  • Special communication devices including alphabet cards, handheld devices that print out a tape, voice amplifiers, and computers that respond to eye blinks.
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation to facilitate swallowing
  • Diet modifications
  • Altered positions while eating

Speech Therapy at Therapy Achievements

Jaime Richardson is one of the speech therapists at Therapy Achievements. She has taken advanced training in the LSVT Loud Voice program and VitalStim Swallow program. Speech therapy services are typically covered by health insurance and Therapy Achievements is an in-network provider for most insurances.

Therapy Achievements is a Rehabilitation Center that provides out-patient Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.  We have programs for Balance and Movement, Speech and Swallowing, Swelling from Lymphedema and Edema, Driving Rehabilitation and Functional Living Skills for visual and cognitive re-training.  We help people with Brain Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Lymphedema, Head and Neck Cancer, and other disorders that interfere with mobility and function.  We offer VitalStim Technology, Saebo Technology, LSVT LOUD Treatment, LSVT BIG Treatment, and Neurodevelopmental Treatment.