Proper Speech is More Than Just Talk

A person’s speech can be an indicator of potential health issues which may be proactively addressed according to Rooks County Health Center’s (RCH) Speech Pathologist, Tara Staab. Speech Therapy is provided as part of RCH’s new Rehabilitation Center completed last fall, located 1210 N. Washington Street.

Staab details a couple of examples reflecting how speech therapy is more than just talk and can  affect one’s everyday life. “Most people don’t know that as we age we may lose swallowing strength or function. Improper swallowing skills can cause silent aspiration which can lead to pneumonia,” explained Staab. If you have trouble swallowing crackers or bread, or if you cough while eating or swallowing feels like choking, Staab recommends seeking help from a Speech Pathologist for an evaluation or exercises which can improve your swallowing function and prevent serious illness. “Many times  the patient might not be the one to notice the swallowing difficulty, it may be a family member  who sees the change in their eating habits and can bring it to a medical provider’s attention,”  continued Staab. Symptoms of swallowing deficiency can be found online at

According to Staab, another common aspect of speech often taken for granted as a potential medical diagnosis is speech intelligibility. “Intelligibility is how well one is understood by others when one is speaking,” explained Staab. “There are milestones for expression and speech development from birth to the age of four. If a child is behind meeting some of these milestones, we can look for medical issues that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.” According to Staab, a proper speech foundation is vital to developing strong comprehension skills. “For example, when we teach our children to imitate actions like peek-a-boo, clapping, blowing kisses, and waving bye bye. This teaches them how to take turns. We take turns when we talk.” A full listing of speech milestones and suggestions for improving development can be found by visiting

If one suspects swallowing or communication deficiencies, Staab recommends visiting with your  primary care provider in a proactive and timely manner to avoid unnecessary frustration or  further complications from developing. 

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