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Professional Network of a Speech-Language Pathologist: Occupational Therapist

23 August 2013

It's no surprise that most professions entail a multidisciplinary approach, and Speech-Language Pathology is no exception to this. Patients come in many shapes and colors and may require other professionals in their rehabilitation team. Speech-Language Pathologists must be ready to work with others to create a team that will provide the most optimal service to a patient. They may work with or utilize the knowledge base of numerous individuals or just one other professional, including: audiologists, teachers, different therapists, behavioral specialists, psychologists, physicians and others.  I've written before about the vital role an Audiologist can play in speech therapy, which you can see here.

Who will we talk about today? The Occupational Therapist (OT)

You might be asking why a professional who works towards improving someone's life and working skills through the use of physical activities would have to collaborate with a SLP. Well, they help those who are injured or suffer from a physical or mental condition that renders them unable (or with difficulty) to conduct tasks necessary to live and work. Some of these conditions overlap with patients that also need speech or swallowing therapy. An example of these conditions would be stroke victims, those with mental disabilities, traumatic brain injury patients, Parkinson's disease and those with swallowing/eating issues. Take a child with an eating issue for example. A child may not have the jaw strength to chew larger food pieces and requires both forms of therapy. During a visit, an occupational therapist and speech pathologist will work together. The OT will help the child gain the skill set and strength to eat, while the SLP checks how the consistency of the food affects the swallowing mechanisms and make sure all food goes down without the threat of aspiration. They will have to work together to find the best possible technique to help the child overcome the chewing and swallowing deficiencies. This is just one example in many where an OT and a SLP will collaborate in therapy with a patient.

Occupational therapists are just one among a smorgasbord of professions that speech-language pathologists will work with to improve someone's quality of life. I'll be writing about the plethora of others as time goes on! If you have any that you'd like to see, or if you'd like to write a guest post on working with other professionals in practice, feel free to contact me and we will see!