Speech Language Pathologist Working With Newtown Rehab Team To Help In Recovery
Better Hearing and Speech Month is being recognized throughout the month of May to raise awareness about communication disorders and ways to help manage them. Athena Health Care Systems has a team of Speech Language Pathologists at our managed centers to help residents experiencing a wide variety of swallowing disorders and other speech and cognitive deficiencies.
NEWTOWN, C.T. — Speech Language Pathologist Emabel Gund at Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center encourages people to speak up if they notice a difference in their swallowing, speech, or cognitive capabilities.
Since 2002, Gund has been helping residents at Athena-managed centers with a variety of disorders and challenges. She started at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center in Ridgefield prior to Athena acquiring the center. She has since worked at nine Athena-managed centers in Connecticut and joined Newtown in 2019.
“I do all inpatient, new admits, and I also work with the long-term residents doing evaluations of speech, language, voice, swallowing, cognition, and a combination of all of that, depending on what they need, whether they’re here for short term rehab or long-term rehab,” the New York City native said.
She works closely with the physical therapy and occupational therapy teams. If an Occupational Therapist notices someone having a hard time feeding themselves or swallowing, they can refer to Gund and her colleagues to help. For example, if a person has dementia, they may forget how to eat or that they already have. By working with the patient, the speech therapy team can help prevent further decline and help cope with the symptoms. They present different techniques and approaches that can help such as drinking fluid between bites of food.
The same goes for Physical Therapists who may notice a decline in a resident’s ability to do exercises. Speech Language Pathologists can help with memory and, therefore, help the person remember how to do those exercises.
“It’s difficult to explain that to somebody and sometimes to family members because everything we do is not visible. Like P.T. and O.T. you can see what they do, but swallowing and the mechanisms that we use to speak and produce enough air to speak loudly and project our voice. It’s just not visible, it’s in your body,” Gund explains. “There are a lot of people out there who are just ignoring or coping with some symptoms that could be helped by speech language pathology.”
There are many conditions and diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and ALS that have an impact on one’s ability to swallow. Gund says swallowing is “important and fragile” when someone gets sick.
Gund originally wanted to be a pediatrician and was interested in communication and how people speak. Coming from a family that spoke both English and French, she was curious how people learned other languages and went to college to figure it out. She worked in speech language in a hospital in Norwalk when she first moved out of New York City but felt like she wasn’t building real connections with the patients she worked with.
“Hospitals, we have a lot of turnover and I just felt like we were always writing evaluations and discharges and never really working closely with the patients, but with a nursing home and in the rehab department, whether in short-term or long-term, you really build that rapport with the patients and really can see them through progress and see them through a longer course of therapy,” she said.