Mikee Larrazabal 9 min read

The Benefits of Tracheostomy and Speech Therapy

People get tracheostomies for many different reasons. Some need them because they can’t breathe on their own. Others may need one following an injury or surgery to the throat.

There are many benefits of getting a tracheostomy. However following surgery, individuals often lose the ability to speak clearly. However, with speech therapy, they can relearn how to speak properly. In this blog, we will be talking about tracheostomy and how speech therapy can help patients recover from their speech impediments and swallowing abilities. Read more!

What is Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that involves making an incision in the front of the neck and inserting a tube into the windpipe (trachea). The purpose of a tracheostomy is to allow air to enter the lungs when the patient is unable to breathe on their own. Tracheostomies are typically performed on patients who have a blockage in their airway or who are unable to breathe on their own due to a medical condition.

How is it done?

The surgeon will make a small incision in the front of the neck and then insert a tube into the trachea. The tube is then secured in place with stitches or tape. Once the surgery is complete, the patient will be able to breathe through the tube.

Types of Tracheostomy

There are two main types of tracheostomy: fenestrated and non-fenestrated tracheostomy tubes.

Fenestrated tracheostomy tubes have a small hole in the side of the tube, which allows air to enter the lungs and also allows the patient to speak.

Non-fenestrated tracheostomy tubes do not have a hole in the side of the tube and are used when the patient is unable to speak.

A tracheostomy can be a life-saving measure for people who can’t breathe on their own.

Tracheostomy

If a person has a blockage in their airway, a tracheostomy can provide an alternative route for air to enter the lungs. People with throat cancer, patients with severe asthma or COPD, and people who have had a traumatic injury to the throat may need a tracheostomy.

A tracheostomy helps people who are unable to speak due to paralysis of the vocal cords or other damage to the throat.

In some cases, a tracheostomy may be temporary, while in others it may be permanent. Permanent tracheostomies are usually only done when the patient has a long-term need for one. For example, they have a neuromuscular disease that prevents them from breathing on their own. Temporary tracheostomies are often used when the patient may need to have a medical procedure done. They can also be recovering from an accident that has affected their ability to breathe.

A tracheostomy tube can lead to a reduction in movement of the larynx and irritation of the trachea.

Due to the presence of the tracheostomy tube, patients may have a reduced ability to move their larynx. This can lead to a change in the pitch or quality of their voice. In addition, the tracheostomy tube can cause irritation and inflammation of the trachea (windpipe). This can lead to coughing and difficulty speaking.

In other cases, people with a tracheostomy tube need a breathing machine or a ventilator to help them breathe. This can make it even more difficult for the person to speak.

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Prevalence of people with a tracheostomy

Speech Impediments

The number of people with a tracheostomy is increasing. In the United States, it is estimated that there are more than 200,000 people with a tracheostomy. The number of people with a permanent tracheostomy is unknown. It is thought to be around 10%, while the number of people with a temporary tracheostomy is thought to be closer to 90%.

The number of tracheostomies performed each year in the United States is also increasing. In 2010, there were more than 100,000 tracheostomies performed. This number is expected to increase to more than 200,000 by 2020.

What are the risks of having a tracheostomy?

There are a number of risks associated with having a tracheostomy. These risks include bleeding, infection, and injury to the nerves in the neck. Other risks include damage to the teeth and mouth, and problems with swallowing.

In some cases, people with a tracheostomy may develop a collapsed lung due to the presence of the tube in the windpipe.

If you are considering having a tracheostomy, it is important to discuss all of the risks and benefits with your doctor before making a decision.

As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with having a tracheostomy. These include bleeding, infections, and damage to the nerves in the neck. Additionally, having a tracheostomy can lead to problems with swallowing and damage to the teeth and mouth.

Having an interdisciplinary team is important for ensuring that these risks are minimized and managed appropriately.

The care of patients with a tracheostomy requires a team approach. This team may include the following members:

Speech Therapy
  • Primary care physician: The primary care physician is responsible for managing the overall health of the patient and coordinating the care provided by the other members of the team.

  • ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist: The ENT specialist focuses on the surgical aspects of tracheostomy care and the management of any medical conditions affecting the head and neck.

  • Speech-language pathologist (SLP): The speech-language pathologist provides therapy to help the patient regain their ability to speak.

  • Respiratory therapist: The respiratory therapist manages any breathing problems that may arise and provides support to the patient and their family.

  • Dietitian: The dietitian provides nutritional counseling to ensure that the patient is getting the nutrients they need.

Each member of the team has an important role to play in the care of the patient to ensure that they have the best possible outcome. It is important for all members of the team to work together to provide the highest quality care.

Speech therapy can help people who have a tracheostomy tube

Speech therapists can work with people who have a tracheostomy tube to help them produce sounds and words correctly. They can also help people with a tracheostomy tube to improve their swallowing function. Swallowing is important for preventing aspiration, which is when food or liquids enter the lungs.

Speech therapy is an important part of the rehabilitation process for people who have had a tracheostomy. A speech therapist can help the patient to regain their ability to speak and improve their quality of life.

Speech problems associated with tracheostomy

Tracheostomy can lead to a number of speech impediments, including:

  • Reduced ability to move the larynx, which can change the pitch or quality of the voice
  • Difficulty producing sounds correctly due to the presence of the tracheostomy tube
  • Coughing or difficulty speaking due to irritation and inflammation of the trachea

Speech therapy for adults and children can help people with a tracheostomy tube to relearn how to speak and reduce the presence of speech impediments. In some cases, the speech therapist may teach the patient how to use different muscles in their throat to make sounds. The therapist may also help the patient learn how to make different facial expressions to produce sound. In other cases, the speech therapist may provide exercises and devices that can help the patient learn how to produce sounds without using their mouth.

In addition, speech therapy can help the patient learn how to swallow properly. This is important for people with a tracheostomy tube because they are at risk of aspirating (breathing in) food or liquids into their lungs.

Swallowing problems associated with Tracheostomy

Swallowing problems that may be associated with Tracheostomy include:

  • Difficulty swallowing due to the presence of the tracheostomy tube
  • Trouble using the right muscles for swallowing or controlling saliva

Speech therapy can help people with a Tracheostomy better manage their swallowing ability. A speech therapist can teach the patient how to take control of their swallowing muscles and use different maneuvers or techniques to help them swallow more effectively.

Speech therapists may also recommend different types of food and liquids that are easier for patients with Tracheostomy to swallow. For example, thickened liquids may be recommended in order to reduce the risk of choking.

Together, these strategies can help people who have a Tracheostomy maintain good nutrition and quality of life despite their swallowing difficulties.

Benefits of speech therapy for adults and children

The main goal of speech therapy for adults and children is to help the patient develop or regain the ability to communicate effectively. Speech therapists work with patients on a number of different exercises that focus on improving their speech.

Research shows that speech therapy can be effective in improving speech impediments and communication skills in people who have a tracheostomy. In one study, patients who received speech therapy showed significant improvements in their ability to produce sounds correctly and to understand and use words correctly.

In another study, patients who received speech therapy showed significant improvements in their quality of life after six months. The patients who received speech therapy had less difficulty speaking, eating, and drinking. They also reported feeling more confident and independent.

These studies suggest that speech therapy for adults can be an important part of the rehabilitation process for people with a tracheostomy tube. Speech therapy can help people regain their ability to communicate effectively and improve their quality of life.

Some of the techniques that a speech therapist may use include

  1. Training in how to use alternative methods of communication, such as sign language and electronic devices or AAC devices.
  2. Recommendations for different types of food, drinks, or equipment that can help reduce swallowing difficulties such as thickened liquids or special feeding tubes.
  3. Techniques to manage saliva and phlegm production such as the use of suction tubes and sputum management techniques.
  4. Exercises to help improve muscle control and coordination such as :
    • Breathing exercises. Breathing is an important part of speech production. The therapist may teach the patient different breathing exercises that can help them produce the sound correctly.
    • Oral motor exercises. These exercises focus on improving the movement of the lips, tongue, and jaw. The therapist may have the patient practice making different sounds or moving their lips and tongue in different ways.
    • Resonance exercises. These exercises focus on improving the quality of the patient’s voice. The therapist may have the patient practice humming or singing to improve the resonance of their voice.

Overall, speech therapy is an important part of the rehabilitation process for people with a tracheostomy tube. It can help them improve their communication skills and quality of life by addressing the underlying causes of their swallowing difficulties.

So if you are looking for ways to manage your swallowing problems, speak with a speech therapist today to learn more about how they can help!