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Swallowing, Speech, Language Therapies Available Here

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016


Amanda Wray, SLP-CFY, the speech-
language pathologist for the hospital and 
clinic, displays packets of food thickener, along
with assistive devices used in the treatment of
swallowing disorders.


Nearly 50 muscles are involved in swallowing. Amanda Wray, SLP-CFY, is a therapist who helps patients to improve function in muscles that have been affected by stroke, neurological disease, surgery, or other incident.

She may appear at your bedside in Mercy Health/Love County Hospital to teach you swallowing exercises or to deploy assistive devices to restore your ability to eat and speak normally.

Swallowing difficulty, known as dysphagia, is just one of numerous impairments Wray addresses.

"I work from the neck up. I am a therapist for anything involving problems with speech, language, or swallowing," Wray said.

Wray began work with patients in the hospital, clinic, and therapy building in August. Patients from surrounding counties also are seeking her rehabilitative assistance.

Rehab for someone who has lost the power to use or understand words involves learning drills with practice in following directions, reasoning, and improving reading and writing skills. The therapist might also teach the use of a speech-generating device or other "compensatory strategies" to make up for what has been lost.

In other cases, a patient might understand speech and form proper words in his or her mind but cannot get the words out. The tongue, palate, and lips are the parts of the mouth that express words. These patients do exercises to retrain the brain and increase strength and endurance in the muscles used for speech.

The therapist also helps with speech volume or clarity. Exercises involve control of the respiratory system to benefit speech, and improved pacing to slow down fast talkers or help those who omit words or sounds to pronounce every sound when talking.

As a child growing up in Ardmore, Wray encountered speech therapy first hand. "I received what is called articulation therapy because of trouble pronouncing my 'r's. I had a cousin with autism and a grandfather who had a stroke and I witnessed speech pathologists doing therapy with them. I also was influenced by another cousin who entered the field of speech-language pathology and invited me to observe clinical work with patients," Wray said.

She holds a master's degree in speech-language pathology from Texas Women's University. During graduate school, Wray fulfilled rotations in schools, rehabilitation, and stroke centers.

"I love being a speech-language pathologist. I am able to work with all ages and see how rewarding it is for a patient to be able to return home to be with friends and family after a stay in the hospital, or return to work after being seen as an outpatient in our clinic. The staff here has been very helpful. They treat me like family," Wray said.