Gundersen Health System’s speech therapy department is growing

May is speech and stroke awareness month, and Gundersen Health System is growing their speech therapy department to help meet patient needs.

The department helps patients with a variety of conditions that affect speech, language, cognition and swallowing, but specialist say most of their patients are stroke survivors.

Stroke survivors can have physical difficulties speaking, called dysarthria, which the department helps by having patients listen to recordings of them speaking.

Stoke survivors can also have aphasia, which affects the brain’s ability to use language. Aphasia can require a variety of treatments.

“We do the whole gamut. They might work on worksheets. They might work on being videotaped. [They] might work on trying to things in different settings,” said Vicki Monk, a speech and language pathologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse

Deb Rash, a stroke survivor and speech therapy patient, said thanks to the program she regained her speech and was able to use the menu at a restaurant with her daughter.

“I read it to her to see what I wanted,” said Rash.

The department has grown in recent years. Two years ago they had four members, but now they have eight and will be joined by a ninth member in June.

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