If you or your child needs help with speech, language or swallowing skills, you may benefit from speech therapy. The speech therapists at University of Missouri Health Care provide effective, compassionate care for adults and children. We work in collaboration with your referring doctor and other experts to provide complete care for your individual needs.

Speech therapy

Our speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, help you regain speech function for success at home, school or work. Our mission is to help you achieve your goals and improve your quality of life.

Speech therapy services we offer

At MU Health Care's Mizzou Therapy Services, many of our patients have problems that are directly caused by medical disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, head and neck cancer and Parkinson's Disease, but we also treat swallowing and speech conditions. Our speech-language therapists design personalized treatment plans to address communication problems, memory loss and swallowing dysfunction, including:

  • Cognitive-linguistic skills. These are skills related to your attention, memory, thinking, reasoning, safety awareness, decision making, planning and organizing.
  • Fluency. Fluency difficulties can include stuttering as well as problems producing normal speech rate and rhythms.
  • Social interaction. This includes difficulty recognizing appropriate behaviors or comments, interpreting or controlling emotions, and interpreting body language and interactions.
  • Speech and language. Speech and language issues include slurred or abnormal sounding speech, word-finding difficulties, issues with reading and writing, and difficulties producing sentences or conversation.
  • Swallowing. Swallowing disorders are characterized by coughing and choking during meals, difficulty chewing or moving food in the mouth, facial droop, swelling or numbness, and the sensation of food sticking in the throat.
  • Voice. Voice problems include changes in voice quality, loudness and pitch range, overuse, strain, and difficulty coordinating breathing and speaking.

Speech therapy specialty services

We have therapists who are certified several advanced speech therapy treatments, including:

  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). This can encompass multiple ways to help a patient communicate when he or she has severe expressive communication disorder.
  • Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) LOUD. LSVT LOUD is used by speech therapists to assist with vocal intensity in people with Parkinson's disease.
  • The McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program. A research-based team approach to swallowing therapy. It is an intensive therapy that has been shown to help patients with severe dysphagia, or swallowing difficulties.
  • Myofascial release. This is a stretching method for improving muscle elasticity, strength, and range of motion for improved swallowing, voice and speech production.
  • Speaking valve trials. A speaking valve, often a Passy-Muir Valve (PMV), is a one-way valve that attaches to the outside opening of the tracheostomy tube and allows air to pass into the tracheostomy but not out through it. This valve allows someone to speak more normally. A trial must be conducted to ensure the value can be tolerated in their daily life.
  • Therapeutic listening. During these sessions, headphones are worn with specially recorded and enhanced music designed to provide sensory information to trigger attention and activate body movement to help improve self-organization.
  • VitalStim. This is a swallowing treatment that uses electrical stimulation. During the treatment, electrodes are placed on the area of muscle weakness, which helps the muscle and nerve work together better for improved function.

Speech therapy specialty populations

Our Ellis Fischel Cancer Center location serves patients with problems associated with head and neck cancer. People undergoing treatment for head or neck cancer may experience difficulty with swallowing, articulation (pronouncing words) or voice. Our clinicians are experienced in specialized swallowing tests and treatments including:

  • Clinical swallow evaluations
  • Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallow (FEES) allows a therapist to watch and evaluates how well you swallow by passing a thin, flexible camera through your nose.
  • Modified Barium Swallow Studies (MBS) test to see if food or liquid is entering the lungs, making it difficult to eat or breath. This is also known as aspiration.
  • Myofascial release to improve muscle function
  • Trismus treatment to release locked jaw muscles from radiation therapy
  • Swallow preservation exercises

Our speech therapy team is dedicated to serving our patients that undergo advanced surgeries that include total laryngectomy. These services include:

  • Preoperative counseling
  • Training use of an artificial larynx or electrolarynx
  • Assessing and placing tracheoesophageal voice prostheses (TEP), a device that helps to produce voice using the esophagus

Our Children's Therapy Center location treats children of all ages with a variety of diagnoses. Our staffed of dedicated pediatric speech therapists help children with developmental and acquired speech disorders that help improve your child’s speech and language skills, social interaction, fluency, voice and swallowing issues.

We also have specialized services and clinics for children that include:

  • Aerodigestive program. Dedicated for assessment (including Modified Barium Swallow studies) and follow-up of swallow difficulty. Learn more.
  • Cochlear implant. Dedicated to aural rehabilitation of those that have had placement of cochlear implants. Learn more.
  • Motility program. Our therapists work with your child if he or she is struggle with digesting food. Learn more.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care. Our dual-certified speech-language pathologist and lactation consultant works alongside parents, feeding therapists and the NICU team to provide early feeding assessment to help ensure successful feeding development. Learn more.
  • Tiger Intensive Program. Service that combines with physical therapy and occupational therapy to offer a concentrated/intense therapy experience for complex needs.

Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders. Our therapists are on staff to help your child if he or she receives treatment at the Thompson Center for autism or neurodevelopment diagnoses. Learn more.