Rudolpho “Rudy” Corral with Mark Deleon, speech therapist

Many people may not realize that speech therapy assists more than a person’s ability to talk; it also can help people relearn to swallow.


This was the case for Rudolpho Corral, a Corpus Christi, Texas, resident, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a fall.


Corral came to Wooldridge Place Nursing Center in Corpus Christi on May 21, 2015, for rehabilitation. Physical therapists worked with him to regain strength, endurance and walking skills, while occupational therapists helped him relearn daily self-care tasks like getting dressed. But perhaps the biggest improvements he made were in speech therapy.


When Corral arrived at the skilled nursing and rehab center, he was on a feeding tube and had trouble talking because of apraxia, a disorder that makes it hard for people to move their mouths to form words. He worked with speech therapists five days a week to get back to a normal diet and ability to speak clearly so he could return home safely.


Corral and the speech therapists worked on exercising his throat and mouth muscles. VitalStim® therapy was especially helpful in stimulating the muscles for swallowing, and the therapists taught him strategies to swallow safely.


“Rudy kept a positive outlook toward treatment and worked hard each session to achieve his ultimate goal of eating,” said Mark Deleon, speech therapist.


As his swallowing skills improved, Corral was able to eat and drink different textures, starting with thick consistencies and finally working his way up to drinking thin liquids like water and tea and eating normal foods with a variety of textures.


“You gave me exercises to help with swallowing that really worked,” Corral said. “I didn’t know if I would ever eat again, and you gave that back to me. Thank you.”