Speech Pathology

Improving Your Ability To Communicate - Speech Disorders

We specialize in treating patients who have speech and language problems, including motor speech disorders and aphasia, or difficulties communicating that result from brain injury, stroke or neurological disease. Our speech-language pathologists work closely with you, offering inpatient and outpatient care or rehabilitation, depending on your specific needs. 

Motor Speech Disorders

Motor speech disorders can make it difficult to express yourself. You may know what you want to say, but have a hard time communicating your thoughts. Motor speech disorders include:

  • Dysarthria: The muscles of the mouth, face and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly or stop moving. Dysarthric speech may also be called "slurred" speech. 
  • Apraxia: People with apraxia of speech have trouble sequencing the sounds in syllables and words. Sometimes a person cannot say a word, and then later can say the same word without any difficulty. It may be difficult to imitate words but easy to produce automatic speech without any problem (for example, saying "hello," "I'm fine," "OK," etc.)


Aphasia is a language disorder that is usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain. Aphasia can make it difficult for a person to understand spoken or written information and can affect the ability to speak or write. There are several different types of aphasia, including global, Broca’s, transcortical motor, conduction, anomic, transcortical sensory, transcortical mixed, and Wernicke's aphasia. Learn more about aphasia.

Stuttering (Fluency Disorder)

Stuttering is an abnormally high frequency and/or duration of stops in the forward flow of speech, usually characterized by hesitations, repetition of whole words and repeated phrases. Although it typically begins in early childhood, onset of stuttering can occur at any time during life. 


In some cases, a Passy Muir Speaking Valve (PMV) is appropriate for patients who have a tracheotomy, or breathing tube. The device allows voicing and coughing and enhances swallow function. Wake Forest Baptist speech-language pathologists work with physicians and respiratory therapists to place PMVs for the patient and evaluate tolerance with the valve. Patients and caregivers are provided with thorough education regarding use and care of the valve.

Brain Injury

Individuals with brain injury may experience trouble communicating, understanding others or completing daily tasks that they used to be able to accomplish. Our speech-language pathologists work with patients and their families to develop strategies to compensate for any observed difficulties.

Cochlear Implants

Our speech language pathologists work together with ENT/head and neck surgeons and audiologist to evaluate patients who may benefit from cochlear implants. They perform speech, vocabulary and language testing prior to implantation and after implantation. They also conduct yearly follow-up appointments and help patients develop new communication strategies. Learn more about cochlear implants.

ALS Clinic

This multidisciplinary clinic meets three days per month. The speech- language pathologist sees patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who are experiencing speech and/or swallowing difficulties and works with them to compensate for and provide alternatives for their deficits.

MS Clinic

The multidisciplinary multiple sclerosis (MS) clinic meets one day per month.  The speech-language pathologist primarily evaluates patient's cognitive-linguistic skills and provides compensatory strategies to assist with any deficits they may have. 

Speech and Language Therapy

As a first step, your speech-language pathologist will take a medical history. Next, you will have an oral motor examination and perform various tasks. For instance, you may be asked to follow commands, respond to questions, name objects, repeat words and sentences, or perform reading and writing tasks. 

This information will be used to establish a treatment plan that is right for you. Our speech-language pathologists work closely with each patient, customizing therapeutic tasks to help improve expressive and receptive language and speech. For example, if you have problems speaking clearly due to weak muscles, you may do oral exercises and learn strategies to speak more clearly. If you have a type of aphasia that makes it difficult to understand what others are saying, therapy may target comprehension activities. 

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Last Updated: 09-15-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.