Speech and language therapists (SaLT or SLT) can help people with multiple sclerosis in the management of communication or swallowing problems. Your chest, throat and tongue muscles need to work in a co-ordinated way to allow speech, eating or drinking. If MS has affected the nerves that control this part of your body, then you might struggle with these actions.
You may be referred to see a speech and language therapist for a number of reasons. Your therapist can assess the cause and the impact of the problems you have and can develop programmes to help you manage your symptoms.
The most common form of speech problem experienced by people with MS is slurring or slowing of speech. Some people with MS may have difficulty in remembering words or concentrating on things involving words. For example reading a long newspaper article. Speech and language therapists can teach you tips that help you communicate effectively and make the most of your skills.
People with MS may also develop swallowing problems that can lead to drooling, coughing or choking whilst eating or drinking. The SaLT may carry out a swallowing assessment and advise ways to minimise or avoid problems. They might suggest altering your posture or using special techniques to make swallowing safer for you. This can help to reduce the risk of pneumonia caused by breathing in particles of food or drink.
Speech and language therapists work in a holistic way, and will normally involve you and your family (if appropriate), as well as with other health professionals involved in your care. SaLTs may work in a variety of settings depending on your needs. You may find them in community teams and in hospitals, and some therapists may be able to visit you at home.