Our Services

Speech and Language Disorders

The Wheeling Hospital Speech Pathology Department provides comprehensive diagnostic testing, evaluation and remediation of a variety of communication disorders in children and adults. Individuals are served both on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Services are available at Wheeling Hospital and Belmont Community Hospital.

The Speech Pathology staff members at both locations are nationally certified by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and hold Certificates of Clinical Competence in Speech/Language Pathology (CCC/SLP). All staff members are also licensed by the State of West Virginia and/or Ohio in the field of Speech/Language Pathology.

Speech Pathology Department at Wheeling Hospital

Speech/language services provided at Wheeling Hospital include:

  • Speech and Language Evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for children and adults suspected of having communication problems and difficulties.
  • Speech and Language Therapy/Cognitive Rehabilitation for poststroke and head-injured patients following residential rehabilitation programs when returning to the home environment.
  • Laryngectomy/Voice Restoration for those who have undergone surgery to remove the larynx secondary to cancer. Alternative methods of speech must be implemented to restore communicative abilities (i.e., the use of an electrolarynx or learning esophageal speech, etc.). Pre and postoperative counseling is available.
  • Dysphagia Treatment for individuals experiencing difficulty in swallowing due to impaired progression of food from the mouth to the stomach. Difficulty in chewing and swallowing frequently occurs as a result of neurogenic disorders and/or cancer.
  • Cochlear Implant/Hearing Impaired Rehabilitation to assist children in developing and using their residual hearing as well as to improve their communication skills including articulation (speech sound) development and language skills.
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication Therapy, which instructs nonverbal patients to use various augmentative/alternative communication strategies and devices such as picture boards, electronic devices, etc.
The Wheeling Hospital Speech Pathology Department also uses computer-based speech and language remediation programs for pediatric and adult rehabilitation. These programs offer an innovative, hands-on approach in providing efficient speech/language treatment to patients with articulation disorders, hearing impairment, language delay, stroke rehabilitation, identified voice problems, cognitive disorders, etc.

Swallowing Assessment and Treatment

The Wheeling Hospital Pathology Department is a certified provider of VitalStim Therapy for treating swallowing disorders.

Dysphagia affects nearly 15 million Americans, and approximately 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Symptoms can include coughing during or after swallowing, choking on food or liquid, the sensation of food getting stuck in the throat, pain during swallowing and shortness of breath while eating.

Dysphagia commonly occurs following stroke, radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, traumatic head or spinal cord injury, tracheotomy, burns and meningitis. It also is common in people with congenital or degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

VitalStim Therapy must be prescribed by a physician after a thorough evaluation of the patient's condition. It is usually administered by a speech pathologist who has completed an intensive certification process and has at least three years of experience treating dysphagia.

For more information about swallowing disorders or VitalStim Therapy, call the Wheeling Hospital Speech Pathology Department at 304-243-3770.

Modified Barium Swallow Studies

The Speech Pathology Department may perform a videofluoroscopy, or X-ray study of the swallow recorded on DVD for evaluation and analysis. Various food and/or liquid consistencies are given to the patient in order to assess swallowing status and function relative to the four phases of swallowing:
  • Oral preparatory
  • Oral
  • Pharyngeal
  • Esophageal
Medical conditions commonly associated with swallowing disorders include:
  • stroke.
  • head injury.
  • head/neck cancer.
  • multiple sclerosis.
  • Parkinson's disease.
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • muscular dystrophy.

Speech and language disorders (communication disorders) basically affect the way people talk and understand. These disorders may range from simple sound substitutions to not being able to use speech and language at all.

Articulation Disorders - the ability to use sounds correctly in words, words in sentences, and overall speech intelligibility. Sounds may be substituted for one another, distorted or omitted. Speech intelligibility may be poor and very difficult to understand.

Language Disorders - basically refers to the ability to understand, comprehend and express thoughts and ideas effectively. Understanding word meanings, basic sentence structure and correct word usage generally make up what is referred to as language.

Stuttering (dysfluency) - consists of noticeable disruptions in the smooth flow and rhythm of speech. There may be evidence of hesitations, repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases. Secondary behaviors (i.e., eye blinks, head jerks, etc.) may also be evident with an observable increase in struggle and tension during speech production.

Voice Disorders - primarily characterized by inappropriate pitch (too high, too low, monotone) loudness (too loud or too soft) or quality (harsh, hoarse, breathy or nasal).

Cognitive/Communication Disorders - the loss of or impairment to communication skills, memory, concentration, reasoning, comprehending and problem solving resulting from traumatic brain injury, accident, etc.

Aphasia - the loss of speech and language abilities resulting from stroke and damage to specific areas of the brain.

Possible causes of speech and language disorders include:

  • cerebral palsy.
  • neuromuscular disorders.
  • head injury.
  • stroke.
  • hearing Impairment.
  • cleft lip and/or palate.
  • vocal abuse/misuse.
  • inadequate speech/language models.
  • head/neck cancer.


Primarily, a physician referral is all that is necessary to make an appointment with a speech/language pathologist. For more information on children's speech and language development, or to schedule an appointment, consult a physician regarding a referral for speech/language services.

For more information, call Frank Basilone, MA, CCC/SLP, Speech Pathology Director, at 304-243-3770, or e-mail fbasilone@wheelinghospital.org.

Speech Pathology Department at Belmont Community Hospital

Speech pathologist services also are available at Belmont Community Hospital. Through a team approach to treatment, each patient receives a personalized rehabilitation program to meet his/her specific needs, as well as a set of realistic goals.

For more information, call Kristen McCabe, MA, CCC/SLP, Speech Pathology Director, at 740-671-1200.

Communication Disorders Targeted

Communication Disorders Targeted

Dysphagia treatment is provided in the Wheeling Hospital Speech Pathology Department for individuals experiencing difficulty in swallowing due to impaired progression of food from the mouth to the stomach. Difficulty in chewing and swallowing frequently occurs as a result of neurogenic disorders and/or cancer.