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news News Wednesday, May 2, 2018 Wednesday, May 2, 2018 4:40 PM - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 4:40 PM

Speech language pathologists give children back their life through rehabilitation

Speech-language pathology team makes a positive impact on recovering patients and their families, highlighting the importance of Better Speech and Hearing Month

Speech language pathologists give children back their life through rehabilitation

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston is known for many outstanding services that change the lives children and their families. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes observing a health care professional with their patient to sense the passion they have for their field.

In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, the Houston Shriners Hospital wants to highlight the outstanding care our speech-language pathology team provide on a daily basis.

From patients with cleft lip and palate, to patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or stroke, speech language pathologists do it all. They also treat children with feeding and swallowing disorders.

Speech Language Pathologists Shayne Kimble and Rachel Murphy specialize in working with patients who have acquired brain injury.

“If you have a child who has had a traumatic injury, who previously led a completely normal life, going back and transitioning can be a devastating situation. This is a traumatic experience, which has happened to the entire family,” Kimble explained. “It changes all aspects of the child’s life. This is why they come to our unit, to get back to the things that they were doing before.”

Working in rehabilitation, they see firsthand the impact that brain injuries can cause to a developing child.

“Our goal is to help our patients be active participants in society, “said Kimble. “We rehab all of the skills that were impacted from a brain injury. These impacted skills could be executive functioning based, including attention and impulsivity, and skills such as being able to organize thoughts sequentially and money management.”

Fourteen-year-old Caroline has been receiving treatments at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston for two weeks. After experiencing a stroke, she was diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder that is a result of neurological damage. 

“She doesn’t have a loss of her intelligence, all of that is still there, she just isn’t able to access her language right now,” Murphy explained. “She knows what she wants to say, but is having difficulty communicating right now. She has been working hard and is getting better every day.  She’s a typical kid and it’s important to remember that.”

Caroline’s mother, Rania, said she was impressed with how personalized the therapies at the Houston Shriners Hospital are.

“They are so receptive to everything. They are smart. They come up with all these fun ways to teach her things, like finding out what she likes and working that in,” Rania said. “Their enthusiasm rubs off on her. That sort of thing can really make a difference, especially with someone that is so sensitive to nonverbal cues.”

Aphasia is a common acquired language disorder, but it affects individual patients differently. It can impact all modalities of language, including spoken language, reading, writing and auditory comprehension. Treatment for patients with aphasia will vary depending on the location and severity of the brain lesion. Length of treatment can range from a couple of weeks to several months, or even years at times.

“These are the people that we want to empower and it’s really important for us to reintegrate them back in the community,” Kimble said.

The Houston Shriners Hospital’s speech pathology team is gaining national attention for their specialized care. Shayne Kimble will be presenting at the American Congress of Rehabilitative Medicine and the Louisiana Speech and Hearing Association later this year. Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston also started a FEES program in 2017, an endoscopy program specialized for patients with feeding and swallowing disorders.

During this year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston is honoring our Speech Language Pathologists Shayne Kimble, Rachel Murphy and Rachel Hogan, for going above and beyond when providing care.

Rachel with Carolyn Shane with Caroline Rachel with Jose, brain injury patient

Pictured (top right) Speech Language Pathologist Shayne Kimble, uses interactive written materials during Caroline’s therapy session; (above left) Rachel Murphy, speech langage pathologist, keeps Caroline engaged during speech therapy; (above middle) Speech Language Pathologist Shayne Kimble, uses slime creation during Caroline’s therapy session, engaging her motor skills; (above right) Speech Language Pathologist Rachel Murphy, tests Jose’s academic abilities.