Abu Dhabi speech language therapist shares success stories

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on September 8, 2021


Neethu Raghavan, who works as speech language pathologist at Madinat Zayed Hospital. Supplied photo

Neethu Raghavan pointed out she examines patients and then creates treatment plans tailored to their needs

In October last year, a 20-year-old Emirati patient was admitted with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Madinat Zayed Hospital. He had difficulty in swallowing and communicating and he was referred to Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) after extubation for swallowing and communication evaluation from the ICU.

The youth was diagnosed with oropharyngeal dysphagia and aphasia and dysphagia therapy started. After a few sessions of therapy, he could take regular diet with safe swallow strategies and swallowing manoeuvres.

“Language therapy then started and later, the patient continued the therapy as outpatient after being discharged from the hospital. Following two months of intensive language therapy, the patient showed a drastic improvement in verbal communication skills and attained all modalities of communication,” said Neethu Raghavan, 30, who works as a speech language pathologist at Madinat Zayed Hospital, while sharing success stories of patients to mark the World Physiotherapy Day on Wednesday (September 8).

In another case in January 2021, Raghavan - who holds the coveted certificate in SLP, accredited by American Speech Language Hearing Association - treated a 57-year-old Bangladeshi patient admitted with disturbed consciousness level and speech arrest. The patient was referred to SLP for swallowing and communication evaluation.

“Formal evaluation was done, and the patient was diagnosed with oral dysphagia and global aphasia (complete speech arrest). The dysphagia therapy started and after a few sessions, he could tolerate soft diet fairly,” said Raghavan.

“The patient was given intensive language therapy (visual action therapy and melodic intonation therapy) for 3-4 sessions in a week. He showed a drastic improvement in verbal communication skills and expressed his needs before he was discharged from hospital,” said the Indian therapist.

She explained that the goals of language therapy are arranged hierarchically - from simple to the most complex ones - to improve the spontaneous verbal response, auditory comprehension, naming skills, praxis and cognitive skills.

In the third case, Raghavan recalled that a four-year-old bedridden child was brought to the speech therapy department complaining of dysphagia.

“The patient was on continuous PEG feeding. She was diagnosed as having oropharyngeal dysphagia and doctors recommended modified dysphagia diet by the SLP. The patient was still aspirating as reported by home care nurses when she was received in our hospital,” she said.

Raghavan said the findings of SLP evaluation at her department showed that the patient had poor oral awareness, restricted lingual movements and oro-pharyngeal coordination for swallowing function.

“Also, the child was taking a prolonged time to swallow. She started three sessions of dysphagia therapy per week. Now the patient is able to take safely pureed solids and liquids. Currently, the child is on two meals orally at daytime and the feeding time decreased to 10 minutes to complete one meal orally,” said the therapist.

Raghavan pointed out she examines patients and then creates treatment plans tailored to their needs. They may have speech articulation issues, voice quality problems, or language disorders and treatment could involve modifying a patient's diet, said Raghavan, who has been working at the Abu Dhabi hospital for the past three years.

“I love treating and taking care of the patients. I feel so happy when I see a patient regaining speech and communicating properly,” Raghavan underlined.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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