Speech-language pathology, also known as speech therapy, is an area of specialization practiced by a clinical professional known as a speech pathologist or speech and language specialist, both of which can be referred to by the short term description, speech pathologist. This medical specialty focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders and conditions affecting the speech system. A speech pathologist will use various specialized tools such as audiological equipment, computer software, diagnostic tools and a number of other diagnostic techniques in order to diagnose and treat individuals and families suffering from a variety of disorders.
Speech pathology is generally divided into three main categories. The first type is called general pathology, which deals with disorders that affect the entire speech system. These disorders include conditions such as laryngitis, glomus tumors, adenoids and tonsillitis. General pathology includes a broad range of disorders, including a large number of disorders that are not directly related to a specific part of the speech process.
The second sub-specialty sub-discipline of speech pathology is called electrophysiology. Electrophysiology is an area of study that uses a number of specialized tools to listen to the brain and to measure certain brain activities in response to stimuli, such as sounds and light. A variety of disorders can be diagnosed using this approach. In addition to electrophysiology, the speech pathology field also includes the study of the visual system, including ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, otolaryngology, audiology, audiovisual science and vision rehabilitation. Ophthalmology, for example, is an extremely complex and specialized branch of medicine that examines the eyes.
Neurological pathology, or neuropathology, is also known as an area of specialization in speech pathology. Neuropathology is a sub-specialty that deals specifically with brain diseases, including stroke, seizures, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This branch of the speech pathology field is especially important in the United States, where the National Academy of Sciences has determined that more than fifty percent of individuals who have suffered a stroke will suffer from another neurological condition as well.
Speech pathology can also be subdivided into several sub-specialties, including pediatric, geriatric, audiological and rehabilitation. Speech pathology also encompasses a number of special programs and clinics, including developmental disabilities and speech pathology, pediatric speech therapy and speech pathology at a children’s clinic and speech pathology.
Speech pathology is highly specialized field and it is important for anyone who wishes to pursue a career in speech pathology to undergo a rigorous pre-screening process. These processes include a comprehensive medical exam, an interview process, a background check and multiple interviews to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge and skills.