The therapists in our Speech-Language and Swallowing Disorders department help stroke patients regain vital abilities so they can get well and go home.

Restoring confidence and overall wellness is the goal of The New Jewish Home’s Department of Speech-Language and Swallowing Disorders. When patients arrive for rehabilitation after suffering a stroke, they are often unable to speak or swallow. Thanks to the work of our dedicated, experienced team of speech therapists, they regain those functions and can often return to the fulfilling lives they previously led.

Annie, who worked as an executive secretary, arrived at The New Jewish Home after experiencing a stroke while hospitalized for a heart valve issue. She was disoriented, and she couldn’t speak because of muscle weakness. She was receiving all her nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube.

“At first it was hard, very hard. I was terrified,” Annie recalled. “But the speech therapists are so sweet, and very patient, and I need that! In the beginning, I didn’t want to talk. But the more the therapists helped me, the better I liked it. They were so wonderful.”

Once her speech was restored, Annie found she still had some difficulty finding words and communicating, so she received additional speech therapy. The therapist provided her with strategies to use when she has trouble retrieving a word, and she relies on those strategies during conversations. She now participates in activities and engages with other patients as well as family and friends who call and visit.

Tony, who worked in security for Amtrak, also had a stroke and arrived with tubes in his throat and stomach. He could not speak at first and when he regained some speech, he sounded scratchy and weak. Now, he speaks in a strong, clear voice.

Not being able to eat was distressing for Tony, and he worked hard with his therapists to regain the ability. “I couldn’t open my throat muscles properly. They fed me different things—yogurt, jello—so I could re-learn how to swallow. I had therapy every day for quite a few months. I learned to swallow better, to chew food properly, and now I’m eating three meals a day.”

The therapy was challenging, and Tony admits that he wasn’t always in the mood. “There were days when I was annoyed, and I didn’t want to comply with the therapists. They wouldn’t insist, but they’d say, we’ll be back tomorrow. I became a better patient with them.”

He added, “They made me feel comfortable being with them, and they always encouraged me. They are very kind people who enjoy what they do, you can tell that it’s coming from their heart.” He hopes to return soon to his independent life.

Strong relationships are formed between patients and therapists as they get to know each other during daily therapy sessions. “Katie became my friend,” a patient named Rose said about one of her therapists. We were able to discuss common interests, things in the news. It became a real conversation and a real friendship.”

Rose, who worked for the IRS, could barely communicate when she arrived at The New Jewish Home after having a stroke. She also couldn’t eat any solids, and she was so weak that she kept falling asleep during therapy sessions. Now, she’s eating real food. “It feels wonderful,” she said.

“We take each patient as they are, and we try to bring in their likes and interests, figuring out what will motivate them and help them progress,” said Fae Boczko, director of The Department of Speech-Language and Swallowing Disorders.

Rose readily agreed that she’d recommend The New Jewish Home to anyone who needed rehabilitation therapy. “The rehab therapists are fantastic here,” she said. “You will make great progress, like I did.”

To learn more about our speech and swallowing rehabilitation and thereby offered at The New Jewish Home, Manhattan, please call 212.870.4715 or email ManhattanSNF@jewishhome.org.