A brain tumor is a serious condition that can have wide reaching health impacts.
As a brain tumor grows, it can put pressure on your brain, which can affect how it works.
One of the things that can get damaged when you have a brain tumor is your ability to speak.
In fact, for some people, deterioration in their speech can be the first sign they have a brain tumor.
If you have a brain tumor, you might not know that speech therapy can actually help with some of the speech related symptoms of your tumor.
Read on to discover how brain tumors can affect your speech and how your speech therapist can help.
What Is A Brain Tumor?
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of a mass of cells in your brain.
Since your skull sits so closely to your brain in order to keep it safe, any growth in your brain can cause problems because it increases the pressure in your skull.
Brain tumors can be benign or malignant.
Benign brain tumors aren’t cancerous, which means they grow slowly and can’t spread to other parts of your body.
Benign tumors are often also easier to remove.
Malignant brain tumors are cancerous, which means they grow quickly and can spread to other parts of your brain or nervous system.
Whether your tumor is benign or malignant, it can be classified into one of two types.
Primary Brain Tumors
A primary brain tumor is a tumor that originates in your brain.
Primary brain tumors are often benign.
They can develop from your brain cells, the membrane around your brain, your nerve cells, or glands in your brain.
Secondary Brain Tumors
The other kind of brain tumor is a secondary brain tumor, which is also known as a metastatic brain tumor.
A secondary brain tumor happens when cancer cells spread from another organ, like your lung, into your brain.
Lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and kidney cancer are all able to spread to the brain.
How Do Brain Tumors Affect Speech?
In the left hemisphere of your brain is an area called Broca’s area.
It’s the part of your brain responsible for speech.
If your brain tumor pushes on your Broca’s area, it can cause speech issues.
Your brain tumor can also cause speech issues if it grows into your nose, throat, or mouth.
You might notice the following symptoms:
- Speech that’s less precise
- Forgetting words
- Substituting words
- Slurred speech
- Having a weakened or quiet voice
- Having a voice that’s too loud
- Difficulty controlling your pitch
Fortunately, these are all symptoms that speech therapists can help with.
How Can Speech Therapy For Brain Tumors Help?
Pediatric speech therapists in Washington DC are trained in speech therapy for brain tumors, but fortunately, pediatric brain tumors are relatively uncommon.
As a result, it’s more likely you’ll be seeking a speech therapist for adults near me for help.
There are many ways your speech therapist can help with speech difficulties due to brain tumors.
Your speech therapist will work with you to design interventions based on the type and location of your tumor as well as your speech difficulties.
Read on to learn about some methods your speech therapist might use.
1. Vocal Exercise Training
Just like you can do exercise to build your arm or leg muscles, you can also do exercises to build up the muscles in your mouth and face that are responsible for speech.
If vocal exercise training is the right intervention for you, your speech therapist will provide you exercises to help with jaw opening, tongue strengthening, and range of motion exercises.
2. Alaryngeal Speech
If you have a brain tumor that affects your larynx, your speech therapist may use interventions that help you produce speech using a source of sound other than your larynx.
It’s part of your throat.
It includes your vocal folds and your Adam’s apple if you have one.
It plays a role in breathing, swallowing, and talking.
It’s sometimes called your voice box.
There are three main options that your speech therapist might explore with you.
One option is an artificial larynx.
An artificial larynx is placed on your neck and allows sound to be conducted into it to produce speech.
Another option is esophageal speech, which allows air to be introduced into your esophagus and propelled through your pharynx.
Your pharynx will then vibrate which allows you to produce sound.
Lastly, you may pursue tracheoesophageal speech, which is done by making a surgical puncture between your trachea and esophagus.
The puncture is fitted with a prosthesis that allows air to move from your trachea to your esophagus to produce sound.
3. Augmentative And Alternative Communication (AAC)
Your speech therapist may recommend either short term or long term use of augmentative and alternative communication strategies (AAC) to help you communicate.
AAC can include using a device like a tablet with specialized software to talk, or using communication cards or another visual form of language.
4. Exercises For Swallowing Issues
If you have a brain tumor that affects your speech, it may also affect your ability to swallow.
If this is the case, your speech therapist can work on exercises that improve the strength and range of motion of muscles in your throat to allow you to swallow safely.
5. Other Speech Language Pathology Approaches
There are many other ways your speech therapist can help you maintain your communication skills if they’ve been affected by a brain tumor.
Some of these approaches include palatal prostheses, diet modification, voice therapy, and postural modifications.
Your speech therapist will be able to decide what form of treatment is best for you.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
Maintaining your ability to communicate while you have a brain tumor is important for your wellbeing and quality of life, and it’s something our qualified speech therapists can help with.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.