Medical Speech-Language Pathology: A Practitioner’s Guide, 3rd ed

Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

The Christmas break has meant that, whilst books have gone out, reviews are slower in coming back. When this arrived in the post, I appreciated that 30 years spent largely in otology meant I knew very little indeed about this topic. A recent return to head and neck (it is a long story) suggested that maybe I should reverse that, and my ignorance made me the ideal reviewer, possibly.

I only checked the price after writing my review and was genuinely astonished that this book can be produced at that price. It is a substantial tome in the typical Thieme format (and I do concede that the new-look cover has grown on me), and it is truly all-encompassing for the speech and language pathology trainee, or indeed anyone more experienced in that field needing an update. It is all too easy for us, as otolaryngologists, to request input from speech and language therapy when we realise that, surgically, we have little to offer. Now, after reading this (over several nights), I really do have a far better understanding of what speech and language therapists do for those with dysphonia and dysphagia, and tracheostomy or laryngectomy patients.

This is the third edition, which is impressive, as the first edition only appeared in 1998. This edition comprises new chapters on: education in medical speech and language therapy pathology; differential diagnoses of adult language disorders; brain injury in children and adolescents; and end-of-life communication and swallowing issues (particularly well done).

There is a US authorship throughout, and we are soon reminded of the range of work of speech and language therapists, who treat disorders of voice, swallowing, speech, resonance, fluency, language and cognition. I did wonder about the prefix of ‘Medical’ in the title and, even after reading an argument that this is to distinguish it from non-clinical work, such as education, development and even politics, I still personally lean to the view, described as a ‘second perspective’, that all speech and language therapy is medical. I may be missing something here.

I found the Neurologic Communication Disorders section (comprising seven chapters, all with self-assessment questions, nice imaging and some advanced neurology) far more interesting than I had expected. Topics include dementia, traumatic brain injury and aphasia. The following section, Disorders of Swallow and Voice, which surgeons tend to think of as core speech and language therapy work, actually only makes up 20 per cent of the page total. ‘Dysphagia; Basic Assessment and Management’ did open my eyes to what goes on after I do generate a referral, and I have now learnt to differentiate ‘FEES’ (fibre-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) from ‘FESS’ (functional endoscopic sinus surgery). Obviously voice disorders comprise the bulk of our cause for contact with speech and language therapy, and there is very nice coverage of laryngeal pathology and its microsurgery. Rehabilitation of Head and Neck Cancer Patients does go into advanced details of surgical resections. Care of Tracheostomies and Valves was particularly well done and highly relevant to our specialty.

This is naturally a major resource for the speech and language therapy practitioner, but there is much there for the general otolaryngologist, and even more for the laryngologist and head and neck surgeon. At that price, it is well worth adding to any ENT department library, and its value to speech and language therapy is self-evident.

Amazon Link: Medical Speech-Language Pathology: A Practitioner’s Guide, 3rd ed
By purchasing books via this link you will help to fund the JLO