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Inside Job

Rachel Bachrach

While it may not be an original choice, speech therapy can be family-friendly and lucrative — and it has the potential to help a wide array of people, from newborns to the elderly. Three women talk about the many ways a speech therapist can improve lives.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dina Braunstein, 26, is a speech-language pathologist at Aperion Care in Highland Park, Illinois. She’s been working for two years.   Something I treat that no one would guess is part of a speech therapist’s day Swallowing issues. I once had a patient in his 50s who’d suffered a stroke, and he had a gastrostomy tube, which delivers nutrition through the stomach. We helped him by reteaching him to swallow, and then we slowly trialed different types and consistencies of foods. Eventually we were able to upgrade his diet from pureed solids to softer solids, and then finally regular solids. Same with liquids — we started with thickened liquids and upgraded him to thinner. I felt so privileged to have affected someone’s life in that way; eating and drinking orally is something most of us take for granted, and being able to do it again really improved his quality of life.   Think you want to be an SLP? You’d better have a lot of drive. It’s an intense program that requires at least two years of schooling and 400 hours of clinical work that involve preparation, studying, and presentations. You also need to be flexible, because you’re working with people, and you never know how a patient will react to a specific method you recommend or to therapy in general. Some patients come from the hospital — they’re weak and can’t tolerate a long session, so I’ll break it up and see them for a little while in the morning and then come back later in the afternoon for part two.

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