Home News CHN Offers Wide Array of Speech and Language Therapies

CHN Offers Wide Array of Speech and Language Therapies

Speech and language disorders can affect anyone at any age. Millions of infants, children, and adults in America suffer from a communication or swallowing disorder. Whether it’s a difficulty in swallowing or a disorder such as stuttering, delayed language, or a voice problem, a person’s ability to learn and interact with others can be affected.

Kristen Mertens, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist with Community Health Network works with patients every day to develop communication skills, as well as treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

One area of expertise for Mertens is swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, which occur when people are unable to move food or liquid from the mouth to the throat, or are unable to squeeze food or liquid down the throat. When Mertens receives a referral for this type of problem, she often works with the CHN Diagnostic Imaging Department to conduct a swallow study to define the origin of the issue. Once diagnosed, Mertens is able to establish a treatment regimen to help improve muscle function. Possible treatment options often include throat and mouth exercises, diet modification, as well as compensatory strategies, which include instruction as to how positional changes can improve swallowing.

Mertens also works extensively with individuals who have communication problems. While both children and adults can be patients, adults who have recently experienced a stroke are common patients. She works on all aspects of communication including reading, writing, speaking and listening. In addition, she works with patients with voice issues—for example hoarseness due to vocal cord dysfunction. She is able to instruct these patients on proper breathing techniques and exercises that can result in improved vocal function.

Another aspect of Merten’s scope of practice is Cognitive Therapy, in which she works with patients to improve memory, orientation, problem solving and attention problems. These patients are typically survivors of stroke or traumatic brain injury or are in the early stages of dementia.

Mertens, who has been with CHN for 10 years notes, “Here at CHN, we are able to provide a wide array of speech and language services, including initial screening evaluations, assessment and diagnosis using state of the art diagnostic imaging technology, intervention and treatment plans, as well as other follow up services for these disorders.” All services, including the diagnostic video swallow study can be performed at the Berlin Memorial Hospital campus of CHN. Kristen also sees patients in their homes through the Green Lake County Birth to Three Program, or through CHN Homecare. In addition, she works with residents of CHN Juliette Manor.

For more information on the CHN Speech and Language Rehabilitation program please visit CHN Rehabilitation Services.


Photo Caption: Kristen Mertens, CHN Speech and Language Pathologist is pictured in a fluoroscopy suite at Berlin Memorial Hospital, which provides real-time images from a swallow study.

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