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Speechies help communicating with confidence in Gladstone

29 August 2019

Gladstone’s John Graham is just one CQ Health client who knows how to communicate with confidence, thanks to support from speech pathologists who have helped him overcome challenges.

He has been working with speech pathologists since his voice box was surgically removed 11 years ago 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.

Mr Graham is a model patient for speech pathologist Meg Currant. They have been working together for the past two years, and Mr Graham’s positivity and confidence shines through.

He initially used an electro-larynx to speak, but now uses a voice prosthesis, which is a one-way valve inserted into the wall between the oesophagus (food pipe) and the trachea (breathing pipe) in Mr Graham’s neck, that allows him to speak. He breathes through a
stoma (a hole in his neck), and to speak he blocks the stoma with his finger to send air through the voice prosthesis up to the mouth creating a voice.

“It’s just marvellous, it’s so much easier,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about charging batteries.”

Mr Graham learnt to voice again from scratch following his surgery, and he says plenty of practice helped him. “To start with talk to yourself or the cat or the dog.”

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

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

Gladstone's John Graham and speech pathologist Meg Currant.

Last updated: 30 August 2019

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