May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Barb AllerdingEach May, Better Hearing and Speech Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of a Speech Therapist. Speech Therapy is beneficial to patients with brain injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, effects from a stroke, cancer, Autism Spectrum Disorder, stuttering, persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as persons with voice disorders, such as vocal nodules or polyps.

Take Barbara (Barb) Allerding. Barb experienced an auto-immune disorder crisis and had to spend four weeks in the ICU, followed by one week in Acute Rehabilitation at McLaren Northern Michigan. “I lost my ability to speak and swallow,” stated Barb. “I couldn’t even swallow something as small as an ice chip.”

After her discharge from Acute Rehabilitation, Barb began outpatient Speech Therapy at the John and Marnie Demmer Wellness Pavilion and Dialysis Center in Petoskey. Jackie Aicher, Speech-Language Pathologist at McLaren Northern Michigan, worked with Barb two days a week for 16 weeks to improve her speech and swallowing. “The role of a speech-language pathologist is to work with patients, both children and adults, to evaluate and treat language, speech, cognitive-linguistics, social communication, and swallowing disorders,” stated Jackie. “The goal is to improve their daily lives.”

With Speech Therapy, home exercises are often suggested to not only maintain improvements made through in-person therapy, but to advance even further into recovery. “One of the reasons Barb has been so successful is because she was diligent about completing home exercises,” stated Jackie. “She was so positive, determined, and had a great attitude throughout therapy.”

Since her illness five months ago, Barb feels confident in the tools and training she received that recovered her speech abilities. “I am able to perform normal everyday tasks like answering the phone and having conversations,” Barb