Progressive Neurological Conditions

Progressive Neurological Conditions

A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) plays an important role in supporting communication and swallow function in people diagnosed with various neurological conditions (from changes in the brain).

Neurological Conditions can be progressive and change over time, such as Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease (PD) or Dementia, or they can be non- progressive for example Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The SLT is involved in supporting people with neurological conditions, with the aim to improve, maintain or support speech, language, communication and swallowing skills, in order to enhance their overall quality of life.

What is a progressive neurological condition?

What is a progressive neurological condition?

What are Progressive Neurological Disorders?

Progressive neurological disorders are conditions where a person has a continual deterioration in neurological function. These conditions are likely to affect the individual for life. The deterioration may occur gradually over many years, or may occur quickly over a period of weeks and months. Common examples of progressive neurological disorders include;

SLTs support people with neurological conditions to maintain, improve and augment speech, language, communication and swallowing skills, in order to enhance their quality of life

learn more about eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties

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Speech and Language Therapy and Progressive Neurological Conditions

An SLT is uniquely skilled in helping individuals who have acquired difficulties with their speech, language, voice, communication and swallowing due to a progressive neurological disorder. Therapy for communication and/or swallowing problems may begin at the initial signs of the disorder and continue throughout all stages of the individual’s illness, depending on need. Management for progressive neurological disorders is complex and is best provided by a team of professionals from different disciplines, known as a multidisciplinary team. Treatment for those with life-limiting conditions will aim to improve the person’s quality of life through compensatory strategies, education and support, and symptom relief. 

The SLT has a key role in:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of communication and/or swallowing difficulties.
  • Management of swallowing difficulties through the use of compensatory techniques, swallow manoeuvres, positioning/postures, food/drink modification, and other stimulation-based therapies. 
  • Working with individuals, their carers, and other healthcare staff, particularly dietitians, to optimise nutrition and hydration.
  • Provision of specific speech exercises to improve muscle function in the face, lips, tongue, palate, jaw, and respiratory system.  
  • Provision of specific speech programmes to help individuals control the rate and improve the clarity of their speech. This may also involve advice about fatigue management in speech production.
  • Provision of specific voice programmes to help individuals control their breathing, volume, pitch, syllable stress and vocal tone.
  • Assessment and trials of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aids, including electronic devices, voice amplifiers and picture boards/books,
  • Conversation therapy with individuals, their families and carers, with the aim to maximise and maintain communication function for as long as possible. 
  • Providing early and ongoing support, education and advice to individuals and their carers.
  • Facilitating individuals with communication difficulties in decision-making and in assessments of capacity, supporting and enabling them to make important decisions relating to different aspects of their own care, including advanced care planning decisions.

Read about how SLTs can help with progressive and non progressive neurological conditions

Parkinson's Disease

Working with a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) is a positive step towards maximising your quality of life and living well with Parkinson’s Disease.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Children and adults who for a number of reasons require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.

The Irish Message Banking Toolkit

The Irish Message Banking Toolkit Initiative is proudly supported by Research Motor Neurone (RMN) and The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)

Acquired Motor Speech Disorders

Motor Speech Disorders (MSD) are a group of speech and voice disorders that occur as a result of damage to the brain or other parts of the nervous system.

Supporting eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (Dysphagia).

Swallowing disorders, known as dysphagia ( pronounced dis-fay-dya) affects a person’s ability to safely swallow drinks, food and medication. It can impact people across the lifespan.


SLT aim to improve, maintain and support the person living with dementia and their communication partners to maximise engagement and participation through optimising communication and quality of life

Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

A Speech and Language Therapist helps people to address and compensate for communication changes; which can range from very mild to severe.

Multiple Sclerosis

Working with an SLT is a positive step towards helping manage symptoms of MS & maximise confidence, well-being & quality of life