According to ASHA.org, when Tiffany Turner graduated, she set out to expand opportunities for fellow speech language pathologists like herself. Turner saw a great need in her community for more speech-language services, so she took action, connected with a local Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter, and even launched her own speech-language pathology program. With her skills and determination, Turner is making a huge difference in the lives of many with neuromuscular disorders like ALS and muscular dystrophy.
ALS and Muscular Dystrophy Explained
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, neurological disease that kills the nerve cells in the brain stem, spinal cord, and brain. As a result of this loss of nerve cells, muscles also eventually weaken, which leads to the loss of voluntary movement and control. ALS is usually a fatal condition because many patients will eventually lose the ability to breathe as chest muscles are wasted away. Symptoms of ALS include tripping, falling, arm/hand/leg weakness, and slurred or slowed speech. There is no known cure for ALS but there are some treatments for symptoms. To read more about the illness, click here.
Muscular dystrophy is similar in that it includes a group of conditions that are characterized by progressive weakness and loss of muscle. There are many different types of muscular dystrophy, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OMD). To read more about these types, respectively, click here and here.
When Tiffany Turner first graduated college, she was working with adults in nursing care. Though she really enjoyed the time spent with her patients, there were a variety of challenges presented to her including scheduling issues, limited budgets, and scarce resources.
Tiffany became focused on the unmet needs of patients in the area that required skilled speech-language pathologists (SLPs). She wanted to not only provide SLPs with the resources they needed, but also expand their availabilities and skills for the patients that need them.
In 2014, Tiffany opened her own Swallowing and Neurological Rehabilitation center. Along with this, she started publishing books and clinical resources for SLPs that did not have the same resources or materials to make their own.
Though Turner had created a clinic, local physicians weren’t necessarily aware of the benefits of SLPs and how they could use them to help their adult patients. To combat this, Tiffany had to be proactive in her marketing. Though difficult for her, she networked with local physicians and organizations and informed them about the benefits of her services.
Because she stepped out of her comfort zone, she garnered a lot more positive attention to her services. She’s also started a handful of free local support groups as well as community-based programs.
Turner collaborated with her local Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter so that she could treat those with ALS and similar degenerative muscular diseases. She also works with the American Parkinson Disease Association, Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, and National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders.
Turner also hosts many support groups for those with various speech language barriers, including those with swallowing problems, aphasia, and Parkinson’s.
Though Tiffany has a lot on her plate, she feels nothing but grateful to have this opportunity.
“It’s gratifying to know that thousands of SLPs worldwide use my handouts, worksheets and other resources with their own patients. The more I take on, the more I realize that there really is no end to the number of ways we can help people in our community if we are brave and dedicated enough to do so,” said Turner.