Communication Tools for Patients Who Cannot Talk

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If you or a loved one cannot talk, you know how hard it is to communicate. Many things interfere with telling others your needs . A tube that is in your throat to help with breathing, an illness that weakens your voice box or throat muscles, stroke or another brain injury, or various degenerative nerve diseases are among things that limit people's ability to communicate vocally. Any other disabilities a patient may have can help determine which communication tool is best for her.

Speech Generating Devices

There are many types of speech generating devices that make the ability to communicate easier for non-vocal patients who have a permanent disability. Speech generating devices vary widely in physical features and cost, which may be covered by insurance.

Laptop or Netbook Computers

A patient who cannot talk but can type can use a computer to make his needs known. Recently, netbook computers have become popular. They are smaller than standard laptop computers, but have the same capabilities. You can even get free programs to give your typed words a voice.

VidaTak EZ Board

VidaTak EZ board, designed by people who can no longer speak, is a research-based, 11-inch-by-17-inch dry erase device that comes with symbols and icons printed on it. All a non-vocal patient has to do is point to a symbol for what she needs or feels. Symbols for hunger, thirst, anger or pain, as well as a picture of the human body to show a trouble spot, are printed on the board. Common expressions are included on the board as well.

Simple Picture Board

The pictorial symbols that convey the non-vocal person's needs can be displayed permanently on the board. The patient points to what he wants. Another option is to use magnetized symbols, stored in a box. The patient takes them out and affixes them to a magnetic board to express her needs.

Dry Erase Board

Perhaps one of the simplest communication devices for a patient who cannot talk but can write is a dry erase board. The patient can write his requests on the board, and the family member or staff person can respond accordingly. The board can then be erased and reused.

Paper And Pencil

A pad of paper and a pencil are the simplest communication tools for a patient who cannot talk. Again, she can write down her wishes. Her family, friends or other caretakers can then react to what she wants.

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