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Tracheostomy: The Benefits of Being Able to Speak

Have you heard of the term tracheostomy? A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that involves making an incision in the neck and opening up a direct airway through the trachea or windpipe. This procedure is typically performed when a person has trouble breathing. People with tracheostomy often discover they are able to speak more clearly than before. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of being able to speak clearly after having a tracheostomy. We will also discuss how speech therapy can help improve communication for those with a tracheostomy. Finally, we will provide some tips for you or your child who are undergoing tracheostomy speech therapy.


In this article we will discuss:


Tracheostomy speech therapy

What is a tracheostomy?

When a person has trouble breathing, they may require surgery to assist them. A physician makes an opening in the windpipe of the individual, also known as the trachea. The aperture through which air passes is referred to as a tracheostomy. Rather than passing through the nose or mouth, air goes through a metal or plastic tube placed in the opening. A "trach," properly pronounced trayk, is used to describe either a short-term or permanent need for assistance with breathing. Some individuals may require breathing assistance from a breathing machine commonly known as a mechanical ventilator (mechanical ventilation).


Parts of a tracheostomy

The parts of a tracheostomy include an inner cannula, outer cannula, obturator, ties, and a trach collar. The inner cannula is the part of the trach that actually goes into your windpipe (trachea). The outer cannula is placed over the inner cannula and is held in place by the obturator. The obturator is a small, rod-like device that is inserted into the outer cannula to hold it in place. The ties are used to secure the trach in place. The trach collar is worn around the neck and helps to keep the trach from moving around.


Help your loved ones talk with a tracheostomy

Benefits of speech therapy for people with tracheostomy

Types of tracheostomy

There are two types of tracheostomy: temporary and permanent. A temporary tracheostomy is usually needed after a major surgery, such as cardiac surgery. The need for mechanical ventilation is typically only required for a short period of time. In some cases, however, the individual may require long-term mechanical ventilation. In these instances, a permanent tracheostomy is necessary.


Individuals who require long-term mechanical ventilation will need a permanent tracheostomy. This type of tracheostomy is also referred to as a "cuffed" tracheostomy. A cuffed tracheostomy is one in which a small balloon is inflated around the opening of the windpipe in order to prevent air from leaking around the trach. This type of tracheostomy is typically used for individuals who require long-term mechanical ventilation.


A non-cuffed tracheostomy is one in which there is no balloon inflated around the opening of the windpipe. This type of tracheostomy is typically used for individuals who do not require long-term mechanical ventilation.


There are many benefits to having a tracheostomy.

The main benefit of a tracheostomy is that it provides an individual with an alternative airway. This can be lifesaving when the person's upper airway is obstructed or when they are unable to breathe on their own. Additionally, a tracheostomy may be needed when a person requires long-term mechanical ventilation. In these cases, a tracheostomy can help to avoid complications associated with prolonged intubation, such as vocal cord damage.

Another benefit of a tracheostomy is that it may facilitate the ability to communicate by mouthing words. Additionally, when a person receives a tracheostomy tube, several methods used to elicit phonation can be utilized, including the use of a one-way speaking valve, leak speech, and digital occlusion. All of these methods require toleration of cuff deflation.


Main Problems After Tracheostomy

After someone has a tracheostomy, they might have some problems. Some problems are: choking, trouble talking, tube falling out, and trouble with secretions. Choking can happen if the person eats or drinks too fast, or if they eat or drink liquids when they are lying down. Trouble talking can happen because the tracheostomy tube gets in the way of the person's vocal cords. They might sound muffled when they talk.


The tube might fall out if it is not put in correctly or if it gets loose. To help prevent this from happening, the person should ask someone to check that the tube is secure before they leave the hospital. They should also avoid activities that could pull on the tube, like strenuous exercise. Trouble with secretions can happen because liquids can collect in the space between the tracheostomy tube and the person's vocal cords. This can make it hard to breathe and cause coughs. To help with this, the person should suction their tracheostomy regularly to remove anysecretions that have collected. They should also drink plenty of fluids to thin out their secretions. These are some of the problems that can happen after someone has a tracheostomy.


Professional Care after Tracheostomy

If someone has a problem with their tracheostomy, there are people who can help. The surgeon who inserted the tracheostomy tube is a good person to ask for help. They can look at the trach to see if it is in the right place and check to see if the tube is secure. They can also help with any problems the person might be having. The doctor, such as an otolaryngologist, or nurse will know how to fix any problems and will be able to answer any questions.


A doctor caring for a patient with tracheostomy.

If the person is having trouble breathing, the doctor or nurse can suction out the airway. This will help the person to breathe better. If the person is having trouble speaking, the doctor or nurse can help with that too. There are many different types of trachs and each type works differently. The doctor or nurse will be able to tell what type of trach a person has and how it works. They will also be able to show the person how to care for their trach so that it stays clean and does not get infected.


Aside from the doctor and nurse, a speech therapist can help with any problems the person might have with talking. They can teach the person how to use their tracheostomy to make different sounds. They can also help the person learn how to swallow liquids and food without choking.


The respiratory therapist can help with any problems the person might have with breathing. They can also help with secretions. They can teach the person how to suction themselves and how to use different treatments to thin out their secretions. These are some of the people who can help if someone has a problem with their tracheostomy.


Those who have undergone a tracheostomy can benefit from speech therapy.


Hess (2005) found that one's quality of life is largely based on how well they can communicate. This becomes extremely important when a person is ill and trying to recover. Critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation are generally given an endotracheal tube or a tracheostomy tube. According to Batty (2009), communication with these intubated patients is often attempted through facial expressions, gestures, and/or writing depending on the sedation level and person’s neurological status. However, Patak et al. (2006) research found that these modes of communication are not always effective which can lead to frustration for the patient.


This is one of the main goals of tracheostomy speech therapy. Speech therapy can help those with a tracheostomy by teaching them how to use their new voice, how to care for their tracheostomy tube, and how to prevent complications such as pneumonia. Common goals of adult speech therapy for those with a tracheostomy include improving communication, increasing independence with activities of daily living, and reducing the risk of complications.

Quality of life is the main goal of tracheostomy speech therapy.

Speech therapy should be scheduled on a regular basis typically once or twice per week. There are no risks associated with speech therapy for those with a tracheostomy. Family members can help support the individual during speech therapy sessions by participating in therapy exercises at home and by providing encouragement and positive reinforcement.


Eating with a Tracheostomy

Once a tracheostomy has been performed, it is important to begin working on eating and drinking. A speech therapist can help with this process. They will work with the individual to make sure they are able to eat and drink without choking or aspirating.

Aspiration occurs when liquids, food, or stomach contents go down the wrong way and enter the lungs. This can cause pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs that can often be fatal. To help prevent aspiration, it is important to make sure that food is cut into small pieces, liquids are thickened, and the head is tilted forward when eating or drinking.


A speech therapist can also help with swallowing. They will provide exercises to help improve the muscles used for swallowing. They can also teach the individual how to suction themselves so that they can keep their airway clear.


Talking with a Tracheostomy

Another goal of speech therapy is to help the individual learn how to talk with their new voice. This can be done through the use of a one-way speaking valve or by digital occlusion.


A one-way speaking valve allows air to flow into the lungs but not out. This forces the person to exhale through their mouth which creates speech. A digital occlusion is when the individual covers the tracheostomy opening with their finger and speaks. This allows them to create speech by using their mouth, tongue, and lips.


Both of these methods require the toleration of cuff deflation. The cuff is a balloon that is inflated around the tracheostomy tube to keep air from going into the lungs. When the cuff is deflated, air can enter the lungs through the tracheostomy tube. This can be scary for some people but it is necessary in order to produce speech.


Caring for a Tracheostomy

Another goal of tracheostomy speech therapy is to teach the individual how to care for their tracheostomy. This includes suctioning, changing trach ties, and cleaning the stoma.

Suctioning is a process that is used to clear mucus from the airway. A suction catheter is inserted through the trach opening and into the airway. The suction machine is then turned on which creates negative pressure and sucks the mucus out of the airway. It is important to suction regularly in order to keep the airway clear.

Trach ties are the strings that hold the tracheostomy tube in place. They need to be changed every few days or as needed. When changing the trach ties, it is important to be gentle so as not to damage the skin around the stoma.

The stoma is the opening in the neck where the tracheostomy tube enters. It is important to keep the stoma clean and free of mucus. This can be done by using a sterile saline solution and cotton swabs. The area around the stoma should also be kept dry and free of irritants such as soap, lotion, or perfumes.


Supporting the best quality of life

While a tracheostomy can be a life-saving intervention, it can also have a significant impact on quality of life. Swimming, playing wind instruments, and singing are just a few of the activities that may be more difficult after receiving a tracheostomy. A speech therapist can help you to find ways to adapt and still enjoy the activities you love.


A speech therapist can also provide support for dealing with the emotional impact of having a tracheostomy. It is common to experience feelings such as sadness, anger, frustration, and anxiety.


Reducing the Risk of Complications

Another goal of tracheostomy speech therapy is to help reduce the risk of complications. Complications from a tracheostomy can include pneumonia, bleeding, and respiratory infections.

Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs that can often be fatal. It is important to suction regularly and to cough up mucus in order to keep the airway clear and reduce the risk of pneumonia.

Bleeding can occur if the tracheostomy tube is not inserted properly or if it becomes dislodged. It is important to check thetrach ties regularly and to notify the doctor if they become loose or if the tube becomes dislodged.

Respiratory infections are another possible complication. These can be caused by bacteria entering the lungs through the trach tube. It is important to keep the trach ties tight and to suction regularly in order to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.


What are some tips for success during speech therapy for those with a tracheostomy?


If your child or loved one needs speech therapy due to a tracheostomy, you may be wondering how to make the most of the experience. Here are some tips for success.


Be patient

It takes time to adjust to having a tracheostomy and to learn how to speak with a new voice. Give yourself time and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. It is important to be patient and to keep practicing. For family members, it is important to be supportive and encouraging. Patients with tracheostomy have it hard enough, so try not to add any extra stress.


Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice using your new voice, the better you will become at it. Try to find opportunities to practice speaking every day. It may simply be reading a newspaper out loud or talking to friends and family on the phone. These activities can promote the development of new speech skills.


Stay positive

It is important to stay positive throughout the process. Remember that you are making progress even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. Development such as learning to speak with a new voice can be a slow process, but you will get there eventually. Celebrating small wins can help to keep you motivated.

The family supporting a patient with tracheostomy.

Seek support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from family, friends, or a support group for people with tracheostomies. It can be helpful to talk to others who are going through the same thing.


Follow your speech therapist’s instructions

Your speech therapist is an expert in helping people with tracheostomies learn to speak. Follow their instructions and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure about something. A speech therapist might give you exercises to do at home in between sessions. It is important to do these exercises as they will help you to progress.


Conclusion

Tracheostomy speech therapy is an important part of the rehabilitation process. The goals of speech therapy are to help the individual learn how to eat, drink, and talk with their new voice. Speech therapy can also help teach the individual how to care for their tracheostomy and reduce the risk of complications.


If you want to be successful in speech therapy, it is important to be patient, practice regularly, and stay positive. You should also follow your speech therapist’s instructions and seek support from family and friends. With hard work and dedication, you can learn how to speak with your new voice.


At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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