Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with RHD. The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment); prevention, counseling, and advocacy; and education, administration, and research. See ASHA’s Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (ASHA, 2016b).
Appropriate roles for SLPs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Screening individuals who present with cognitive and communication difficulties that suggest RHD and determining the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services.
- Conducting a culturally and linguistically relevant, comprehensive assessment of language, communication, and cognition.
- Diagnosing cognitive and communication disorders resulting from RHD, the characteristics of these disorders, and their functional impact.
- Making decisions about the management of disorders related to RHD in collaboration with the patient, family, and interprofessional treatment team. See ASHA’s resources on interprofessional education/interprofessional practice [IPE/IPP] and person- and family-centered care.
- Developing person-centered treatment plans, providing intervention and support services, documenting progress, and determining appropriate dismissal criteria.
- Educating and counseling persons with RHD and their families regarding communication-related issues and facilitating participation in family, vocational, and community contexts.
- Consulting and collaborating with other professionals to facilitate program development and to provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert testimony, as appropriate.
- Providing prevention information to individuals and groups known to be at risk for conditions associated with RHD (e.g., stroke and traumatic brain injury).
- Advocating for individuals with RHD and their families at the local, state, and national levels.
- Educating other professionals on the needs of persons with RHD and the role of SLPs in diagnosing and managing deficits associated with this disorder.
- Remaining informed of research in the area of RHD and helping advance the knowledge base related to the nature and treatment of RHD.
As indicated in the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2016a), individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence shall engage in only those aspects of the professions that are within the scope of their professional practice and competence, considering their certification status, education, training, and experience.