Speech disorders occur when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with their voice or resonance.
Speech pathologists in a medical setting work with individuals whose oral motor, swallowing, cognitive-linguistic, speech, or language skills have been affected by a neurological event/disease, head/neck cancer, or possibly debilitation related to an underlying medical disease process. This includes individuals:
- With speech articulation and fluency difficulty such as dysarthria.
- With voice quality problems, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice possibly related to vocal abuse or cancer.
- With cognitive-communicative impairments, including underlying attention, memory,
- abstract reasoning, or problem-solving deficits possibly related to a stroke, brain injury, or underlying medical disease process.
- With aphasia (a language disorder) or apraxia (a motor planning disorder)
- Who have oropharyngeal weakness that places them at risk for "aspiration" or food/liquid entering the airway when swallowing that can lead to respiratory complications.
- Speech-Language pathologists use physical examination, instrumental technology, and standardized cognitive-linguistic and language tests to diagnose and guide treatment.