If you or a loved one went through a diagnosis of COVID-19 and were hospitalized you may be finding yourself wanting to get back to your life prior to this diagnosis; an SLP can be a valuable member of your care team in achieving this goal.
In cases where COVID-19 is severe, a ventilator may have been used to help you or your loved one breathe. When a ventilator is used it may cause damage to the windpipe and voice box if it is inserted through your nose or mouth. Sometimes a ventilator is used through a small hole made in the neck known as a tracheostomy tube.
Some of the changes after having had ventilation you may see are:
- Pain when speaking
- Noisy Breathing
- Feeling like something is “Stuck in your throat”
- Horse or harsh vocal quality
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing and eating the same foods as before
- Pain or discomfort when swallowing
- Changes in senses such as taste or smell
- Absent or weak cough
- Wet vocal quality
How can an SLP help?
An SLP can help you work on building back up your vocal health and strength through voice therapy
- We will talk about vocal hygiene and how to support healing of your voice box
- We will also work on gentle exercises to help to improve breath support and widen your vocal range, if necessary
An SLP can help you to work on swallowing in order to assist with increasing the amount/types of food you are able to eat or types of liquids you are able to swallow by:
- Helping you chain foods to help handle changes in sensation following ventilation or a tracheostomy tube placement
- Providing swallowing exercises to help you regain your function
- Using VitalStim®, which is a specialized electrical stimulation for swallowing intervention, to stimulate the muscles and nerve fibers within your swallowing system
- Providing swallowing modifications or postures to help support your airway safety
- We can also help you work on your airway protection (e.g. cough) so that you can start to work towards a nonrestrictive diet.
If you feel that you or a loved one could benefit from these services, especially following treatment for COVID-19, please contact us at 586-323-2957. We would be happy to set up a free 30 minute screening to determine if treatment would be a good option.
Written by: Sarah Coulter, MS CF-SLP