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Speech and Language Therapy

NEWS JULY 2021! Speech and Language therapy international consensus recommendations – click here –

This page was written by Laura McWhirter, University of Edinburgh amd Jan Baker, Flinders University, South Australia with many thanks.

What is Speech and Language Therapy?

Speech and language therapists (called speech pathologists in the USA) are health professionals. They assess and treat a wide range of problems with communication, eating, drinking, and swallowing.

Speech and Language Therapists and diagnosis of FND

Speech and language therapists are experts at examining the structure and movements of the mouth and throat during speech and swallowing. For example, they can use special equipment to enable them to look at the vocal cords in the throat.  Speech and language therapists are also experts at listening to, and understanding, the causes of sound, word, and language problems.

There are some differences around the world on how much speech and language therapists might be involved in the diagnosis of an FND. Sometimes a speech and language therapist working alone may make a diagnosis of FND. In other cases, their special skills mean that they can help a neurologist (or ENT doctor, or respiratory doctor) to make the diagnosis of FND.

Treatment of speech and swallowing FND

The sort of treatment depends on the sort of symptoms you have.  

You might be asked to making easy simple sounds which the therapist then helps you to shape into words.  The therapist might help you to notice any breathing patterns or muscle tension which are getting in the way of normal speech or swallowing. Later, the therapist might help you to use your more normal voice, speech, or swallow in everyday settings.

Sometimes speech and voice symptoms of FND can get better very quickly – even during the first treatment session – but in other cases several sessions might be needed. Towards the end of treatment it can help to work with your therapist to make a plan for what might help if symptoms come back again.

Speech and Language Therapists as part of the clinical team

Speech and language therapists work alongside other members of the clinical team. If you have other FND symptoms you might see a speech and language therapist as well as a neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or psychiatrist. In some cases, you might be best to have speech and language therapy first so that you take part in other treatments such as psychology. Other people might only see a speech and language therapist.

Making plans in case symptoms come back again

Sometimes (but not always) symptoms can come back after getting better. If speech and language therapy helped you to get better in the first place, you will often be able to use the same tricks and techniques to get back on track. Sometimes it might help to see the speech and language therapist again for some more treatment.

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