Adult Speech Therapy for Canton, Ohio, and Surrounding Communities

Mercy Speech Therapy offers a a full range of inpatient and outpatient speech therapy services. Our care includes dysphagia therapy, aphasia therapy, voice therapy and cognitive therapy.

All stages of intervention include comprehensive assessments of speech, language, functional communication and cognitive disorders. Specialized evaluations and treatments for dysphagia, voice disorders and augmentative communication are also available.

At all levels of care patients are involved in treatment planning and setting functional, realistic goals for themselves. Input from family and caregivers are also used to facilitate the best outcomes.

Speech Language Pathologists at Mercy Medical Center are certified in the most advanced treatment modalities and offer a wide variety of treatment options to meet the needs of any patient.

Dysphagia Diagnosis and Treatment

Dysphagia is a disorder of swallowing or the inability to swallow. It can have sudden onset or be long-standing in nature. The mildest symptom can be having a dry mouth, while the most severe can cause a person to choke and have food lodged in the airway. The highest risk for a patient with dysphagia is aspiration, where food and/or liquid enters the airway below the level of the vocal cords. There are many causes of dysphagia, some of which are listed below:

  • Brain injury, brain tumor or stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Head/neck cancer or surgery
  • Motor neuron or muscle disease
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Cranial Nerve Palsies

*This list is not comprehensive, and specific information about any of these disorders or diseases should be obtained from your physician.

What options for evaluation are available?

At Mercy Medical Center, we offer two of the most comprehensive assessments for dysphagia:

  • Modified Barium Swallow
    studies include an x-ray assessment of the swallow function while the patient consumes various food and liquid textures.
  • FEES – Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing
    is an exam using a flexible endoscope and camera to evaluate the swallow function as food passes through the pharynx.

Both examinations are sensitive to identifying aspiration and pharyngeal residue, as well as identifying the safest food and liquid consistency for oral feedings. Both exams can be completed on an inpatient and outpatient basis.

What are the treatment options for dysphagia?

The Speech Pathologists at Mercy Medical Center are certified in the latest and most successful methods for the treatment of dysphagia:

  • Vitalstim
    This treatment modality uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation for swallowing. This includes electrodes placed on the neck to stimulate strength and range of motion of the muscles used for swallowing. Vitalstim involved treatment of the swallow, while swallowing foods and liquids. A clinician must be trained and certified in order to use Vitalstim. Mercy Medical Center employs five therapists certified in the Vitalstim treatment protocol. To learn more abut Vitalstim, visit their website at
  • DPNS (Deep Pharyngeal Neuromuscular Stimulation)
    DPNS uses thermal (cold) and tactile (touch) stimulation to improve strength, speed and sensation of swallowing reflexes. DPNS involves direct contact with the swallowing muscles (tongue, palate, throat/pharynx) using frozen lemon glycerin swabs in a repeated pattern. DPNS also required a certification/training course, which five of our clinicians have completed.
  • Traditional Laryngeal Strengthening/Exercise Programs
    Exercises for the improvement of strength and range of motion for swallowing are also employed. Patients are trained to complete oral – motor exercises, voice exercises and swallowing exercises that will improve and maintain strength of the swallowing musculature. Home exercise programs are also given.

For additional products, services and information related to dysphagia please visit the following websites:

Aphasia Diagnosis and Treatment

Aphasia is the name for a language problem caused by injury to the brain. Aphasia can affect a person’s ability to comprehend or use language to communicate. It can be mild (trouble finding words), or severe (unable to speak at all). Aphasia can also affect other areas of language such as reading, writing and numerical processing skills.

The most common cause for aphasia is stroke, although any disease or injury that affects the brain can cause aphasia.

How is aphasia treated?

A person with aphasia undergoes a complete assessment of all areas of language comprehension and expression:

  • Auditory comprehension (understanding language)
  • Reading comprehension
  • Verbal expression/communication
  • Speech production (sound production, voice, intelligibility)
  • Written language
  • Basic cognition

Therapy will revolve around those skills that are diminished, while focusing on residual skills to facilitate independence with communication of basic needs. Advanced communication skills needed in the community or at work are also facilitated. Therapy tasks will be specific to each person.

What if my family member can’t talk at all?

Traditional therapy would continue, however, the ability to use an alternative communication device (machine that is programmed to talk) can be tested. There are a variety of devices that can be programmed to help the patient communicate using their residual language and motor skills.

To read more about aphasia please visit the following websites:

Voice Therapy

Voice therapy is a treatment used to improve the quality, strength and endurance of the voice. The voice can be affected by overuse or abuse, injury to the throat or vocal cords or a neurological problem such as Parksinson’s Disease. Having a voice disorder can also affect the intelligibility of speech.

The clinicians in Mercy’s Speech–Language Therapy Department are qualified to complete voice evaluations, in conjunction with anatomical assessments that should be completed by an otolaryngologist (E.N.T.).

There are four therapists certified in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT), which is a specific therapy regimen used to improve the intensity of the voice and intelligibility of speech. It was specifically designed for use with patients with Parkinsons Disease. This regimen involves a high frequency of therapy sessions with strict home programs and carry-over techniques.

For additional information about the LSVT program, please visit the following website:

Cognitive Therapy

Cognition refers to the act of thinking. It involves the tasks of paying attention, initiating, problem solving, planning and executing activities. Being able to evaluate one’s work, have awareness of errors and show good judgment are also acts of cognition. Cognitive deficits can be caused by any injury or disease that affects the brain. The most common cause for cognitive deficits is traumatic brain injuries.

The Speech Pathologists at Mercy Medical Center provide specialized treatment for cognitive deficits that may affect a person’s activities of daily living, education or employment. An individual treatment plan is developed following a complete assessment of the following:

  • Problem solving
  • Memory
  • Judgment
  • Orientation
  • Attention
  • Reasoning
  • Insight
  • Convergent thought
  • Functional cognition
  • Categorization skills
  • Numerical processing

Family, friends and other caregivers are often involved in the treatment plan to facilitate the best outcomes. Home activities such as memory notebooks or organizational planners are often used to help patients organize and complete tasks.

For more information regarding traumatic brain injury and cognitive deficits, visit the following websites: