When Gertrude “Trudy” Snyder woke up from her third brain operation, she could not speak.
But you probably wouldn’t know that if you engaged her in a casual conversation.
She saw therapists at the Moss-Rehabilitation Clinic in Elkins Park, Pa., and now receives treatment every Thursday at the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at La Salle University, where she is treated by a graduate student.
The Northeast Philadelphia resident has made remarkable progress, but admits she has a ways to go before making a complete recovery.
At one point, she could not utter a complete sentence. “Now, I’m working with multi-syllable words,” said Snyder. “I speak OK in a one-on-one conversation, but I have trouble speaking in front of a group, which I’ve had to do for my therapy at Moss. I also have trouble reading aloud, but they don’t care about me taking so long to speak.”
In a one-on-one situation, Snyder seems relaxed and answers questions easily, but once in a while she’ll say words out of order, such as “That you much very.”
Still, this is a long way from when she started.
In her early 20s, she had two operations to remove brain tumors, and was fine until the tumor grew back five years ago. After surgery, she could not form words.
“When I started they would show me a picture and ask me to say something about the picture, what it is,” said Snyder.
At the La Salle clinic, Megan McGlinchey, a first year student in the University’s master’s program in speech-language-hearing pathology, has Snyder doing more complex exercises:
“She’ll assign me a letter, such as T, and in one minute ask me to say as many words as I can think of that begin with the letter T,” said Snyder.
The La Salle clinic charges only nominal fees for therapy sessions, says director James Mancinelli, M.S., CCC-SLP. “When a patient has no insurance, or their insurance runs out during treatment, we’re a resource,” he said.
Many people think the clinic only deals with speech issues such as stuttering, but Mancinelli said the clinic has treated people who suffered brain injuries or traumatic injuries from auto accidents that affect a patient’s language and cognitive skills.
Services for adults includea variety of communication and swallowing disorders such as aphasia, traumatic brain injuries, cognitive-communication impairments, right-hemisphere disorder, stuttering, apraxia of speech, dysarthria, and voice disorders.
Services for children includedisorders of articulation and phonology, expressive and receptive language delays, hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, stuttering, voice disorders, and speech and language disorders as a result of developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, as well as pediatric feeding and swallowing impairments.
Snyder is McGlinchey’s first patient.
“I was a little nervous at first,” she said, “but I’ve grown more confident.” According to Snyder, “She’s terrific!”
One of the biggest differences between learning how to treat patients and actually working with one, McGlinchey said, is paperwork:
“I’m learning how to keep records of patient sessions, which are important,” she said.
Each student-patient session is monitored by a trained therapist watching on a video monitor; this way the therapist can show the student what they did right and how they could improve. These taped sessions are also used in classes.
For information about the clinic, call 215-951-1888 or visit https://www.lasalle.edu/snhs/centers-and-clinics/speech-language-hearing-community-clinics/
An educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values, La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order. Money magazine named La Salle University a “Value All-Star,” ranking it the eighth-best college nationwide for adding the most value for a college education. Globally, the Lasallian educational network includes 1,000 schools (60 of which are institutions of higher education) serving 940,000 students in 80 countries.