Communicating effectively and efficiently is vital for our wellbeing, as it’s what connects us to one another. That’s why Allison Guerriero, Prowers Medical Center’s new full-time speech-language pathologist, helps provide necessary treatments to Lamar community members who need them most.
Guerriero has her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, and after graduation, worked in an acute care hospital in Pittsburgh for three years, where she gained experience in the evaluation and treatment of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), language and cognitive-linguistic disorders. She’s helped treat multiple disorders, ranging from articulation delays to phonological disorders.
Thanks to Guerriero’s extensive education and experience, many members in the Lamar community will benefit from the additional services she’ll be able to provide.
“I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience to the community, providing access to therapy here in town,” Guerriero said. “Moving to Lamar from a larger town has made me realize that there are some services which are not available close by. I think it’s great that people have access to so many skilled service areas in such close proximity at Prowers Medical Center.”
Areas of Speech-Language Treatment at Prowers Medical Center
Prowers Medical Center offers a variety of speech and language therapies, but now with Guerriero on staff, the hospital will have the ability to serve a broader scope of individuals of all ages, ranging from infants through geriatric patients. There are several major speech-language disorders that Guerriero can help patients treat at Prowers Medical Center.
A speech disorder is an impairment of articulation of speech sounds, fluency or voice, according to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
“Most people think of a speech disorder as treating a little kid who can’t say his “r” sounds, but speech sound disorders encompass much more,” Guerriero explained. “Yes, I can help that kid learn to say his “r” sound, but I can also work with an adult who has slurred speech (known as dysarthria) after a stroke.”
Different from a speech disorder, a language disorder is when it is difficult for an individual to comprehend spoken, written or other symbolic language. This type of condition can affect a person’s ability to understand language, their ability to express themselves with language, or both, according to Guerriero.
“A language disorder is not the same thing as an intellectual disorder,” she said. “Typically, these patients can become frustrated with their language difficulties because they are bright individuals who have a lot they wish they could say! Language therapy involves a lot of practice and repetition, but I like to add fun and functional activities to keep the therapy session engaging.”
In addition to these two major healthcare services, Guerriero can help assist community members with multiple other disorders related to speech and language, including cognitive disorders, feeding disorders, swallowing disorders, fluency disorders and voice disorders.
Seeking Professional Speech-Language Assistance
If you’re unsure if you or a loved one should seek professional speech-language services, Guerrero has a few tips for both children and adults.
For children, if you think language milestones are not being met, or if you have any concerns about your child’s speech development, talk to your doctor about getting a speech evaluation. Seeking treatment in the early stages is always better than waiting in hopes that a child will “outgrow” the problem.
On top of that, you’ll have the ability to learn strategies for facilitation of language acquisition.
For adults, if you notice a sudden change in speech, immediately visit the nearest emergency room as this could be a sign of a stroke or other serious neurological event. If the change is more gradual, discuss options with your doctor about receiving a speech and/or swallowing evaluation. Gradual changes in function may be consistent with the natural aging process, but could also be consistent with a progressive disorder.
The earlier you seek help, the earlier Prowers Medical Center staff can help you regain function and/or slow down the loss of function.
“Communication is at the center of what makes us human,” Guerriero said. “It is vital to our interactions with others, not only to make our wants and needs known, but also to form relationships with others. If a person is not able to communicate, it can be very socially isolating. It’s never too late to seek out speech therapy.”
If you notice difficulty or dysfunction with yourself, your young child or an older parent in a way described above, visit with the Speech-Language team at Prowers Medical Center for an evaluation. Sometimes an evaluation is all that is necessary, but other times, therapy might be recommended to assist you or your loved one with the area of difficulty. Call (719) 336-6728 today to schedule an appointment.