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Speechies help communicating with confidence

29 August 2019

Rockhampton’s Gavin Biles knows how to communicate with confidence, thanks to support from CQ Health speech pathologists who have helped him overcome challenges.

He has been working with speech pathologists since his voice box was surgically removed in 2012 due to throat cancer.

This week is Speech Pathology Week (August 25-31), with the theme “Communicating with confidence”. The week promotes the speech pathology profession and the work done with more than 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability that impacts on their daily life.

Speech pathologist Meg Currant is helping Mr Biles learn to talk using an electro-larynx; a battery-operated device held against the neck to project sound. After seven years of communicating via writing, using an electronic notepad, he’s over the moon to find a voice again.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “A complete new ballgame. Life’s good! I can talk on the phone again.”

Meg has special training to treat patients who have had laryngectomies. She loves helping her clients learn to communicate with confidence.

She says it can be a lot for the patients to learn – a new way of swallowing, breathing and talking, but Mr Biles says it’s definitely worth the effort.

The trick is to find the right place to hold the electro-larynx to get the best vibration and sound, and practise using the different buttons, which can take some co-ordination.

“It’s wonderful to be able to make a difference,” Meg said. “Being able to communicate is so important.”

Mr Biles agrees. “At the end of the day you’ve got to communicate, otherwise you’re just lost.”

Rockhampton's Gavin Biles with speech pathologist Meg Currant

Last updated: 30 August 2019

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