Multiple Sclerosis (Ms) and Speech Therapy
Earlier this year (January 2015), Science Alert informed readers about a clinical study in Colorado investigated a stem-cell treatment that prevented many patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) from relapsing. In addition, 91% showed no signs of their MS progressing.
This is a hugely important study.
MS impacts each sufferer differently, but according to the National MS Society located in New York, between 23% and 57% of MS suffers experience speech difficulties.
Speech therapy can be an integral part of managing ones’ MS.
In the RRMS mentioned in the Colorado study, MS sufferers may experience periods of relatively normal speech, along with periods of unclear (dysarthric) speech. Because MS is a degenerative condition, speech exercises used with other types of disorders may not be effective. As a result, compensations for the difficulties are more useful.
HOW CAN A SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST HELP WITH MS?
Speech-Language Pathologists are trained to help people with MS learn which strategies are most helpful based on the person’s physical and mental characteristics. These strategies can be practised during times of remission so that the client has practised the strategy frequently and is ready to use it effectively when an episode or flare-up occurs.
As with any degenerative illness affecting speech, supportive counselling regarding current and future communication changes is very important. Many people are not aware that Speech-Language Pathologists are the optimal professional to provide the counselling pertaining to speech changes. Adjustment issues related to the disability are best addressed through Psychology or Social Work service.
REACH OUT FOR HELP
Please call us if you or your loved-one suffers from unclear speech from any form of MS. We are here to help.
Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.