Changes in communication and swallowing abilities are common as a result of stroke, brain trauma, or a variety of neurological diseases.

What causes speech, language, or swallowing problems?

People with normal communication and swallowing skills may lose some of those abilities as a result of stroke, head injury, head and neck cancer or severe or long-term illness. Problems can also result from diseases that affect the brain such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease). At times breathing problems requiring tracheotomy or a ventilator can result in problems that can require the services of a speech-language pathologist.

Acquired Neurological Disorders

What are the types of communication and swallowing disorders?

Acquired Neurologic Disorders

Changes in communication and swallowing abilities are common as a result of stroke, brain trauma, or a variety of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's. The IUP Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic's faculty supervisors are experts who guide our student clinicians in the delivery of cutting-edge, practically-focused treatments to assist patients to maximize their abilities as they face the challenges of the following problems.


A loss of the ability to comprehend or express thoughts using language. This results from damage to portions of the brain that help us to use language to communicate, often a stroke in the left side of the brain. These language impairments involve the loss of skill in the recall of words or the formulation of sentences to express—or comprehend—speech, the printed word, or even sign language.


A speech disorder resulting from weakness, slowness, or poor coordination of speech. Dysarthria may involve some or all of the basic speech processes such as the accuracy of pronunciation, the control of breathing, the pitch, loudness and quality of the voice, and oral versus nasal projection of the voice.

Apraxia of speech

A loss of the ability to make the voice, lips, and tongue work together in the coordinated way that is necessary for talking.

Cognitive-communication skills

The way individuals remember and think as they communicate. To communicate well, people need to be able to focus and concentrate on what is going on around them. Cognitive-communication disorders often occur after trauma such as a vehicle accident or a stroke in the right side of the brain.


Difficulty controlling the swallowing of food and liquids as they pass through the mouth and throat into the esophagus.

What services are provided by speech-language pathologists?

Adult Therapy

Speech-language pathologists (SLP) work with adults who have difficulty speaking, listening, reading, writing and swallowing. Evaluation, treatment and counseling services are available. Treatment approaches focus on improving language abilities in everyday life activities. The SLP may help an individual engage in activities to improve understanding in the use of words and sentences. Compensatory strategies may be taught to convey ideas through alternate ways of speaking, writing, gesturing, or drawing. In some cases, communication notebooks or portable electronic devices may allow people with communication difficulties to express themselves more effectively.

Who can help?

A speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) can treat acquired neurological disorders.

Useful Links:

At the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic, we provide speech and language treatment for adults who have acquired neurological disorders. Graduate students in training provide services under the direct supervision of certified speech-language pathologists using up-to-date, research-based treatments. Call the clinic for information, 724-357-2451.