Our Mission

Our mission is to identify, assess, and treat a wide range of structurally and behaviorally-based communication and swallowing disorders experienced by both children and adults.

Speech Pathologists

Our speech pathologists are certified and state licensed in speech-language pathology. A speech pathologist is a professional who is responsible for the identification, assessment and treatment of a wide range of structurally and behaviorally-based communication and swallowing disorders experienced by both children and adults. They also provide instruction for families of patients as well as members of the patient’s health care team regarding rehabilitation for communication and swallowing problems. They hold Masters or Doctoral degrees in speech-language pathology complete a supervised, nine-month clinical fellowship in speech-language pathology, as well pass a national examination in speech-language pathology as part of their job qualifications. In addition, UIC speech pathologists have over 30 years of combined experience diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing disorders.

The Chicago Institute For Voice Care

The Chicago Institute For Voice Care is a comprehensive treatment center dedicated to the care of voice and airway disorders. Dr. Sims, is a board certified Otolaryngologist who subspecializes in professional voice care. A professional baritone singer, as well as an accomplished trombone, bassoon and piano player, Dr. Sims brings with him his knowledge of music and performance. The Chicago Institute for Voice Care promotes awareness of the importance of vocal hygiene, the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders, laryngeal function and the relationship between the larynx and other systemic diseases.

Voice disorders occur in 1 out of 10 Americans. They can be associated with vocal overuse or abuse, they can be related to increased stress, or they can be associated with digestive tract problems such as acid reflux. Occasionally, they are an early sign of neurological disease or throat cancer. Voice problems include hoarseness, breathiness,vocal fatigue, or the use of a voice that is too low or too high in pitch. A voice that is too loud or too soft can also be problematic. Sometimes the voice spasms or breaks, such as in the rare voice disorder, spasmodic dysphonia.

An Otolaryngologist will first examine the laryngeal mechanism (throat) to determine the presence of any laryngeal pathology that might account for the voice disorder. They can also determine whether or not acid reflux is occurring. Medical and/or surgical treatment can then be planned. If no pathology is found requiring immediate surgical management, patients may be referred to an experienced speech pathologist for voice therapy. Usually, within 3-6 months, normal voice function is restored. For additional information about treatment for voice disorders, please contact the UIC Voice Center at 866-600-CARE FREE 866-600-CARE (866-600-2273 FREE 866-600-2273)

Many children experience difficulty learning speech and language. These problems may be a result of physical abnormality such as a cleft palate; hearing loss secondary to birth defect, injury, or recurrent ear infections; or cognitive delays. Other problems are developmental in nature such as articulation and language delays. In order for a child to succeed in communication, it is very important that speech and language problems are recognized and treated as early as possible. Division speech pathologists provide services including the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric speech and language delays and disorders. The diagnostic evaluation includes an in-depth assessment of the child’s skills in these areas. The evaluation may be formal or informal, including a combination of standardized tests, direct observation of play and interaction with parent, and parent report. Results from the speech and language evaluation may lead to referrals to other professionals, enrollment in a Division speech-language therapy program, or recommendations for enrollment in such a program through the schools.

The evaluation of neurologic speech-language impairments is completed utilizing both standardized and informal diagnostic tests. The nature of the tests administered depends on the specific deficits of the individual patient. Disorders targeted for assessment include Aphasia, Apraxia, Dysarthria, and deficits pertaining to Higher-level Language/Cognition. Results of these evaluations assist the clinician in targeting functional goals for treatment. The patient and the clinician work in cooperation to develop an individualized plan of care appropriate to the patients needs. The patients family members are also involved, as indicated, in treatment planning.

For additional information contact Kim Hobart or Caroline Deskin or call 312-996-6520

Persons undergoing treatments for cancer can have many different types of communication problems, including speech sound articulation disorders related to surgical removal of oral cavity cancers; hoarsenessor voice loss following removal of all or part of the larynx or voice box; and too much nasal resonance(hypernasality) following surgical removal of part of the soft palate. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also result in difficulty speaking clearly, due to oral cavity changes in saliva, tongue mobility and sensation. These treatments may also cause hoarseness or voice changes due to throat dryness or increased acid reflux. Speech pathologists assist patients in achieving the best speech sound articulation, voice and resonance possible following treatments. Speech and/or voice exercises as well as changes in lifestyle may be assigned to improve speech and voice production. In addition, speech pathologists work closely with otolaryngologists to treat voice disorders, sometimes requiring medical or surgical management. They may also work with maxillofacial prosthodontists to fabricate palatal prostheses to assist in improving speech sound articulation and/or palatal function following treatments.

Head & neck cancer treatments may also result in swallowing disorders. (See section on “Evaluation and Treatment for Swallowing Disorders” below.) Speech pathologists incorporate swallowing treatment for patients into the speech therapy sessions. For more information about these disorders and their treatments, contact Caroline Deskin .

Speech pathologists work as members of the cleft palate/craniofacial team at UICs Craniofacial Center. At the Center, they use traditional perceptual judgments of oral-nasal resonance balance as well as sophisticated instrumentation, such as nasopharyngoscopy, Nasometer, and pressure-flow assessment to determine whether there is a structural defect underlying the perception of hyper- and/or hyponasality. If a structural defect is found, instrumentation also allows for quantification of the consistency and magnitude of the defect. Once such a problem is diagnosed, speech pathologists work with other members of the team to determine optimal treatment, including surgery, prosthetic management, and/or speech therapy.

Evaluation of swallowing disorders is completed through Clinical Swallow Evaluations and Videofluoroscopic Swallow Studies. The clinical evaluation allows the speech pathologist to observe the patient, often during meal times for inpatients and through administering food items to outpatients, to determine the safety and appropriateness of oral feeding. This type of evaluation may provide key information regarding the patients oral motor function, swallow function, and ability to comply with recommended swallow guidelines. The videofluoroscopic swallow study is completed in conjunction with the Department of Radiology. This assessment allows the speech pathologist to further evaluate the oral and pharyngeal swallow in real time with the use of fluoroscopic X-ray. Videoswallow studies are often recommended if a patient demonstrates clinical signs/ symptoms of aspiration during a clinical evaluation or is having difficulty tolerating a recommended diet. Both the Clinical and Videofluoroscopic Swallow Studies are useful in the planning and implementation of diet recommendations, swallow guidelines, and swallowing therapy as needed. With additonal questions, please contact Kim Hobart or Caroline Deskin.