Monday, May 5, 2008


Piedmont Fayette Celebrates Better Speech and Hearing Month

Terrisita Terry’s life changed forever when the car she was driving was rear-ended two years ago. She suffered two brain aneurisms and a stroke and underwent two brain surgeries. Robert Beane’s life has been slowly changing since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than four years ago. He suffers from a tremor in his hand and he cannot speak very loudly anymore. What do these two people with seemingly different situations have in common? They both undergo speech therapy at Piedmont Fayette Hospital to cope with their speech impediments. Effective communication skills are central to a successful life for all Americans. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and the hospital encourages the community to have their own hearing and language skills checked by a professional.

“When I first returned home after my surgeries, I didn’t recognize my family. I have been married for 23 years, and I couldn’t even recognize my husband” said Terry. “It has been a battle to get to this point in my life, where I am ready to transition back into the workforce, and I really owe my speech therapist at Piedmont Fayette for helping me gain not only my speech, but my confidence back.”

According to The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), one in six Americans has a communication disability, and many do not know they can get treatment. There are 28 million people suffering from hearing loss and 14 million suffering from a speech or language disorder. Communication disorders can cause problems for people in their education, employment, and their overall well-being. An individual may be born with a speech or language disorder, or it may be caused by accidental injury or illness.

“We treat people with a range of disorders from not being able to speak after a stroke to children who have a small stuttering problem,” said LaKita Garrett, M.A. clinical lead speech-language pathologist at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. “Even slight hearing loss or a small stutter is treatable, and once the problem is recognized, patients can begin treatment to learn ways to help them cope with their disorder.”

Speech-language pathologists are the professionals who treat all types of speech, language and related disorders. They work in schools, private practice, hospitals, clinics, and other health and education settings. At Piedmont Fayette Hospital, they use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language and swallowing irregularities.

“On my first day of therapy, LaKita had me singing the scale. I was very self-conscious to be beginning therapy this way and I am not the best singer either,” said Beane. “But after a couple weeks, I now feel comfortable, and I realized that is what therapy is all about, stepping outside your comfort zone in order to get better.”

In addition to general speech-language services, Piedmont Fayette Hospital's Rehabilitation and Fitness Center also offers pediatric speech-language services. Without receiving treatment, speech and language disorders can limit academic achievement, social adjustment and career advancement. These disorders can affect anyone of any age at any time. For more information, call the Piedmont Fayette Hospital Speech Pathology Department at 770-719-7290. Physician referral is required and for more information about Piedmont Fayette Hospital, please visit

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