It is fitting that an article should be written to promote this practice in May, because May is Better Speech and Therapy Month. Kristy looks forward to celebrating her dedicated and talented staff and all of her patients in May.
Kristy is proud of being part of a small, independent practice that has had to “swim against the tide” to forge its way through the administrative maze involved in health care. It has been a surprising and eye-opening piece of her business to discover the extent of disconnect that exists in northern Colorado hospitals and rehabilitation centers when trying to locate resources for patients after discharge.
Aspen Speech Therapy offers multiple services for discharged patients who need rehabilitation and can be contacted at any time to provide assistance.
A recent service they are very proud to offer patients is a little-known diagnostic service called “FEES – Fiber Optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing.” Aspen Therapy is the only practice in northern Colorado to be certified in and offer this service. This is a well-established technique that has revolutionized the field of dysphagia diagnostics. FEES is a sensitive, accurate, portable and safe examination that yields clinically useful information relative to swallowing physiology and swallowing safety. The procedure involves passing a flexible endoscope across the floor of a patient’s nasal passage into the pharynx so that the larynx, pharynx and upper esophageal opening are viewed directly from above. Then the patient is administered food or liquids mixed with food coloring in order to determine safe swallowing function and integrity.
FEES can be done at the patient’s bedside, in an office, intensive care unit or in a long-term care facility in under 20 minutes with regular food and liquids. Since there is absolutely no radiation administered the studies are able to be sustained for longer time intervals, allowing the clinicians the ability to tell if a patient’s swallowing technique is impacted by fatigue. This diagnosis tool is especially valuable for throat cancer, Alzheimer’s and stroke patients who are having trouble swallowing. It is also valuable for special needs kids. Kristy believes that if more providers knew Aspen Speech and Therapy could provide this service, it would help facilities setting appointments after discharge.
The Aspen Speech Therapy team provides feeding therapy for newborns and young children. Postural support is a key factor when helping infants learn to eat. Her team encourages young parents to enjoy established mealtimes and involve their young children in the preparation and presentation of food. Allow children a reasonable time to eat, usually about 15 to 20 minutes. Encourage children to eat with their hands, so they can be prepared for how the food will feel in their mouths. Expose children to a single food 10 to 12 times before identifying it as a preferred or non-preferred food. There is also help available through her team if the child has a neurological degenerative disease. If young children are showing a deficit of some kind, intervention needs to happen as quickly as possible to re-train the child and allow them to progress successfully in the future.
In 2017, Aspen Speech Therapy opened the Colorado Institute of Stuttering. Lee Caggiano, a Board Specialist in Fluency Disorders, is at the heart of Aspen Speech Therapy’s foundation of the Colorado Institute of Stuttering. She teaches graduate fluency courses at New York University and Queens College and is a consultant for CU Boulder’s Stuttering Program. The Colorado Institute of Stuttering operates out of the Loveland office.
Aspen Speech has recently become part of a team with Dr. Danny Mistry, MD, PLLC, (aashabrainclinics.com) doing cognitive rehabilitation. Dr. Mistry works with many concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury patients.
Kristy would like the public to know that Aspen Speech Therapy is considered an Essential service during the Covid pandemic; her team is still operating and can be at the office any time they are needed.
After experiencing much growth over the past few years in her business, Kristy has learned not to over-extend herself. There is a “right way to grow” – which involves getting people to understand the services the clinic is able to offer along the way and getting the word out about what they have to offer. Her locations have also expanded – she now has 2 locations in Fort Collins, one in Greeley, one at the Youth Clinic in Loveland, and one in Maui, Hawaii.
For more information about services offered at Aspen Speech Therapy, Kristi Kelly can be reached at (970) 682-3743 and by e-mail: Kristi@aspenspeech.com. The practice website is: www.aspenspeechtherapy.com/.