Cov­ing­ton health care ex­perts use speech ther­apy to help se­nior cit­i­zens

The Covington News - - Local - STAFF RE­PORTS

The sim­ple act of swal­low­ing is some­thing many of us take for granted. Yet ev­ery year, ap­prox­i­mately 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are di­ag­nosed with swal­low­ing dis­or­ders, known as dys­pha­gia. Nearly all de­men­tia pa­tients de­velop dys­pha­gia, and swal­low­ing dis­or­ders are as­so­ci­ated with stroke, pro­gres­sive neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple sclero­sis and Parkin­son’s.

In Cov­ing­ton, the speech-lan­guage pathol­ogy pro­gram of­fered by Amedisys Home Health works with pa­tients to re­cover their swal­low­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Last year, Amedisys’ speech-lan­guage pathol­ogy team helped pa­tients meet nearly 71 per­cent of their treat­ment goals, com­pared with the na­tional av­er­age of nearly 52 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Speech­Language and Hear­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Na­tional Out­comes Mea­sure­ment Sys­tem re­port.

“Peo­ple who have dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing food and liq­uids open them­selves up to a range of health prob­lems, such as weight loss, poor nu­tri­tion, de­hy­dra­tion, chok­ing and as­pi­ra­tion pneu­mo­nia,” said David Hutch­ings, CCCSLP.D., man­ag­ing di­rec- tor of re­hab ser­vices for Amedisys. “It’s cru­cial to help pa­tients re­cover the abil­ity to swal­low.”

Over the past decade, the num­ber of el­derly Medi­care pa­tients who were ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal for as­pi­ra­tion pneu­mo­nia in­creased by nearly 94 per­cent, said Dr. Hutch­ings. As­pi­ra­tion pneu­mo­nia is one of the main types of pneu­mo­nia and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in the el­derly pop­u­la­tion.

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