Krista Caulfield’s office at Bridgepoint is decorated with colourful and original works of art—created by her five-year-old daughter. It’s a personal touch that makes the otherwise plain space feel more warm and inviting. Krista is a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) and Clinical Practice Lead for SLP at Bridgepoint. On her busiest days she sees up to 10 patients in this office on Bridgepoint’s specialized acquired brain injury (ABI) unit.
Krista says many people don’t know the full scope of the work of SLPs. “Often when people think of Speech Language Pathology, they think of the professionals who work with children who have speech delays or they may think of the movie The King’s Speech. This is just one part of what we do. Speech Language Pathologists help with all kinds of communication disorders that affect speaking, writing and understanding written and spoken language. We are also trained to assess and treat swallowing disorders.”
In her practice on the ABI unit Krista assesses each of her patients and helps identify and work towards their goals for rehabilitation. Brain injuries can have a number of different effects on a person’s ability to communicate and each patient’s treatment plan is different. “During therapy I may work with the patient on expressing what they want to say and finding the best way to do that, whether it’s verbally, by using gestures or pointing, or with the aid of a communication device. In some cases we may need to work on a patient’s ability to understand language with exercises that use pictures, modelling or written information.” says Krista. I also help patients to work on voice quality and the ability to be understood by speaking louder or more clearly.”
Because communicating involves many parts of the brain working together in complex ways, SLPs also have expertise in helping patients work on the thinking skills that are needed in communication. “Patients with a traumatic brain injury may have difficulties with memory, attention, planning and problem solving, all of which can affect their communication,” she says. “Working on these skills is often an important part of the treatment plan.”
With 10 years of experience as an SLP behind her and having worked with many patients, Krista says she feels privileged to be part of each patient’s care journey and to work in collaboration with the rest of the care team. Krista is a huge Raptors fan and she compares the teamwork on her unit to the Raptor’s championship performance. “The Raptors didn’t win the championship because of only one star player. They won because of how they played together, with each person doing their part,” she says. “On our unit, we all recognize that each of us makes an important contribution and we function as one, with the common goal of providing the best care. It’s rewarding knowing that I’m a part of that and I’ve played a role in helping patients to achieve their goals to improve our patients’ and their families’ quality of life.”