The Speech and Language Therapy department works as part of the multidisciplinary team on the unit and liaises closely with Nurses Doctors Dieticians and Physiotherapists. The role of the Speech and Language Therapy Team is to assess and treat communication and swallowing problems that present before and after surgery.
The key members of the team are:
- Ms Jo Patterson - Professor of Speech & Language Therapy (CV attached below)
- Ms Lisa Houghton - Speech & Language Therapist (0151 529 4986 - Direct Line)
The Speech and Language Therapist works in the Joint outpatient clinic together with the Consultants.If the Consultant feels it is relevant you will be referred at this stage ,or alternatively when you are on the ward.Speech and Language Therapists will not routinely be involved with all patients pre- operatively as this depends on the type of operation you are having and whether you are experiencing any communication or swallowing problems.During this period an assessment may be carried out of your communication or swallowing and advice offered.It is also an opportunity to discuss the post operative treatment plan.If you wish to see a Speech and Language Therapist and have not been referred. please talk to your nurse or Consultant who can arrange this for you.Alternatively you can contact the Speech and Language Therapist directly on Tel : 0151 529 4986
Patients will usually be referred for an initial swallowing assessment when the doctors feel the mouth has settled sufficiently after the operation.It may also depend on how well you are managing your saliva and chest secretions.This can be anything from a few days to a week or more after surgery.An assessment will be carried and recommendations will be made regarding whether you can start oral intake and advice given on the rehabilitation of your swallowing .This can involve several things
- Changing the texture of what you eat or drink.
- Using head or body positions that make swallowing easier and more efficient
- Learning specific exercises that aim to improve the movement of structures such as your lips, tongue, and throat.
The type of problems you may experience will depend on where the operation was, how much has been removed ,and how well everything compensates after surgery.A programme will be devised that can continue as an outpatient , if necessary, to progress you through the various stages of rehabilitation and maximise your swallowing function.
Initially you may have a breathing tube(tracheostomy) to help you breath and learn how to cope with your secretions( see Physiotherapist section for more details).Whilst this is in place you will only be able to mouth words and may find it useful to have a pen and paper to hand to help you get your message across.
Once this is removed you will be able to use your voice again.At this stage you may find that your speech or voice have changed since the operation.Initially there is a lot of swelling and this can make articulation more difficult.As this settles down there may be certain sounds or words that are difficult and people may have trouble understanding you.This is especially the case if there is a lot of background noise or they have hearing problems.
The Speech and Language Therapist will teach you strategies to make your speech as intelligible as possible. These will be combined with a specific treatment programme which can continue as an outpatient.This will focus on increasing the range of movement of various structures , such as your lips tongue and throat, , to progress you through the various stages of rehabilitation and maximise your communication.