Communication Disorders

Communication Disorders

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Duke speech-language pathologists work with people who have an impaired ability to comprehend, express themselves, or process thoughts to navigate the world around them. We work with all age groups, from infants to seniors, who experience mild to severe communication disorders. We understand the impact these disorders can have on your ability to participate in activities at home, at school, and in every day life. Our goal is to listen to you, reduce your impairment, and help you achieve success based on your personal goals.

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Understanding Communication Disorders

What Causes Communication Disorders
Communication disorders can be present from birth, start in childhood or can be acquired in adulthood. They may result from nerve and muscle disorders, neurologic impairments such as a stroke, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate.  

Common Communication Disorders
We treat communication disorders such as aphasia, which is a language impairment that can occur after stroke or head injury; dysarthria, a motor speech disorder that can impact how you produce speech sounds; and apraxia of speech, which refers to a difficulty with the motor programming of speech that makes it difficult to produce the intended words or sounds.  We also help people learn to communicate after tracheostomy  (an opening in the windpipe) and after being dependent on a ventilator for an extended period of time, using either a speaking valve to produce verbal messages, or through writing and speech-generating devices.

Our Speech-Language Pathologists Work Closely with You
Our trained speech-language pathologists help you understand how your communication disorder is impacting your quality of life. We work with you and your family to create a plan based on your individual needs, and use a wide variety of simple and sophisticated tools to help you achieve success.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Comprehensive Evaluation

Our initial evaluation includes a comprehensive understanding of your needs. We take a complete personal history, and use patient surveys and quality of life measures relevant to your disorder to determine what is important to you. We combine this information with a formal assessment of your strengths and areas of need to help you start re-engaging in your daily life.


We use sophisticated instruments, equipment, computer software systems, and other tools to diagnose and treat your communication disorder.  This technology can provide specific information about the type and severity of your impairment, and lead to a more precise diagnosis and treatment plan.

Family/Work Involvement

Depending on your needs, our speech pathologists will involve your loved ones, teachers or work colleagues to help you reach your goals. We teach personalized strategies for easier interactions and provide tips for successful communication in any type of environment. We help you achieve success with your goals.


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Comprehensive Care for Communication Disorders

A Team Approach
Our speech-language pathologists coordinate your care with teams of specialists in Huntington’s Disease, ALSParkinson’s and other movement disorders, concussion, neonatology and special infant care.

Individualized Care
We combine formal standardized testing with information about your experiences and every day tasks that we obtain through a personal interview, surveys and quality of life measures. The information gathering results in an accurate assessment of your communication deficits and needs. It is also used to measure and track your progress toward reaching your goals.

High- and Low-Tech Therapy Tools
We help you learn to use mobile devices, smart phones, computers, and other types of technology to meet your individual therapy goals, which may include skills like communicating your ideas to another or remembering appointments.   We may also  recommend low-tech devices such as eye gaze boards, visual schedules, memory books, and communication boards and books. We recommend the tool that works best for you.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program
We have a wide variety of equipment and speech-generating devices in our clinic, including innovative technology for diagnosing and treating all types of communication disorders. Our rehabilitation engineer can help you use technology regardless of any physical challenges you may have. We also offer an assistive device loaner program so you can try devices before making commitments to them. 

Trained, Knowledgeable Professionals
Our speech pathologists are up to date on the latest techniques for evaluating and treating all types of communication disorders. Our services are based on therapies that are proven successful, are supported by published studies, and are backed by a national consensus of experts.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.