Celebrate Better Speech Month with ACRMC’s Speech Pathologist Michala Chaney

Michala Chaney, a speech-language pathologist at Adams County Regional Medical Center, treats a patient in an office setting.

May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), and the Adams County Regional Medical Center (ACRMC) proudly joins the observance. This month, Michala Chaney, M.S., CF-SLP, a dedicated Speech-Language Pathologist at ACRMC, encourages residents to seek evaluations for any communication or swallowing concerns they may have for themselves, their children, or other loved ones. These disorders are more common than many people think in both children and adults, yet many remain unaware that they are treatable with the help of a speech-language pathologist.

“Speech-language pathologists work tirelessly in schools, private practices, healthcare facilities, and even homes to enhance people’s speech, language, social, and cognitive skills,” says Chaney. “Communication is crucial at every life stage—for young children, it lays the groundwork for language and literacy; for school-aged children, it’s essential for academic and social success; and for adults, it’s a key component of career and personal relationships.”

Chaney adds, “Many are also unaware of speech-language pathologists' critical role in assisting people with swallowing and eating safely. Challenges in these areas can occur at any age, but safe swallowing and eating are vital to overall health and quality of life.”

A native of Adams County, Michala Chaney works with both inpatients and outpatients of all ages, specializing in treating those who have suffered strokes, traumatic brain injuries, muscle loss, and cognitive impairment following surgery. She also treats post-COVID-19 patients experiencing cognitive-linguistic deficits and developmental delays, among other ailments. Chaney can provide patients with modified barium swallow studies to help address dysphagia, a medical condition in which patients have difficulty swallowing.

Chaney was drawn to speech-language pathology after watching a Facebook video where a speech therapist-assisted a patient in regaining the ability to say "I love you" to their family after suffering a stroke. This powerful moment inspired her to pursue a career where she could impact people's lives meaningfully.

Chaney earned her Bachelor's degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Cincinnati in 2019. She then earned her Master's in Speech-Language Pathology from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 2021.

Communication and swallowing disorders can arise from various causes. In children, factors might include low birth weight, congenital syndromes, developmental disorders, or injuries and illnesses. In adults, they are often linked to stroke, brain injury, head and neck cancer, or neurodegenerative diseases. Despite the varied origins and manifestations of these disorders, most individuals can see significant improvements with the intervention of a speech-language pathologist.

Speech-language pathologists specialize in various areas. They address speech issues involving the clarity and smoothness of speech, which can affect understandability. They also work with language disorders, helping individuals with expressive and receptive language skills, including reading and writing. Cognitive skills related to attention, memory, problem-solving, organization, and judgment are another focus. Voice issues such as hoarseness, pain, and frequent coughing, often due to medical conditions or misuse, are also addressed. Augmentative and Alternative Communication methods, including gestures, picture boards, and speech-generating devices, provide other ways for people to communicate. Feeding and swallowing difficulties, such as coughing, gagging, or food getting stuck, which can result from various medical conditions, are another key area. They also focus on gender-affirming voice and communication, enhancing pitch, tone, vocal health, and nonverbal communication. Lastly, communication coaching helps individuals enhance public speaking and communication style, including accent modification.

The process begins with obtaining a referral from a medical provider. Once the referral is placed and received by ACRMC's rehabilitation department, the patient will be contacted to schedule an evaluation. During the initial evaluation, the patient will undergo a series of assessments tailored to their specific concerns.

For more information on speech, language, and swallowing disorders, please visit acrmc.com or call 937-386-3721.

About Adams County Regional Medical Center

Adams County Regional Medical Center is a 25-bed critical access hospital located near Seaman, Ohio, just 60 miles east of Cincinnati. Adams County Regional Medical Center is a viable and growing state-of-the-art health care facility meeting the needs of Adams County and the surrounding communities, providing a full range of services, including inpatient and outpatient amenities. Adams County Regional Medical Center is Joint Commission certified, focusing on the importance of patient care and organized functions that are essential to providing safe, high-quality care.