What are the effects of a Progressive Illness?
There are many progressive diseases that fall under the category of neurodegenerative (effecting the neurons in the brain) diseases. Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), are a few examples. These diseases effect motor movements in various ways, which impair function, and can cause devastating changes in an individual's life. For more detailed information about these conditions see the Speech and Language Resources page.
Therapy for Progressive Illness
The focus in my clinical practice is to help clients maintain their current skills, and improve skills whenever possible. I use a strength-based approach with my clients and focus on their strongest assets and abilities. Communication is a foundation for any relationship, and helping clients continue to effectively communicate with their loved ones is a goal worth striving for. I will utilize both the remaining skills my clients have available, in addition to adding technology-based communication aids when and if necessary.
Speech therapy is usually required due to the progressive nature of these diseases. My clients will vary in their need for speech therapy based on the severity of impairment. Various exercises and compensation techniques to help clarify speech movements, are typically included in a therapy program.
Cognitive challenges are also issues that need to be addressed in therapy. Depending on the progression of the illness, individuals may need support with attention, memory and overall functioning in their daily lives.
Voice therapy and breath support are also areas targeted. Strengthening exercises and breathing techniques can be very helpful to maintain or improve current function.
Swallow therapy is common in those who have progressive neurodegenerative illness. While it is more typical for swallowing to become involved in the later stages of these diseases, there are some people who have these challenges early on. Given that swallowing issues can negatively impact a person’s life, it is critical to be aware of any changes in this area of functioning. Please refer to the Swallowing Resource page for more detailed information
Education and training to family members is a key component in the success of all of my therapy programs.
Family Support and Emotional Needs
A change in our ability to function is an extremely emotional situation. Family members and close friends are usually the ones left to help support our loved ones to maintain the best quality of life possible. I believe that the success in improving the physical and functional skills of each of my clients has to also be balanced with meeting their emotional needs. Given the important role that many family members play in supporting their loved ones, it is critical that family members take care of their own emotional needs as well.
Grief, loss, anger, and sadness can be just some of the emotional pain that individuals with illness can feel. The family members caring for their loved ones go through similar strong emotions. Please refer to my Counselling Services if you feel this type of support is necessary to improve you and/or your loved ones potential for achieving better health and happiness.