What is Therapeutic Speech Massage?

Speech therapists have long used massage as one of a number of techniques in a program of treatment for patients with a variety of speech pathologies. Massage of the lips and tongue alone can provide some benefit to the patient, but Therapeutic Speech Massage (TSM) expands on these traditional methodologies. The foundations of TSM depend upon a recognition of the interactions and relationships between the muscles of the peripheral speech apparatus, that is, all of the muscles of the face, head, neck and shoulders. Physical therapists who work with the larger muscles of the body very seldom work with only the specific muscles which have been traumatized. They usually begin their treatment somewhere else and slowly work through a series of connected muscles, thus preparing the traumatized tissue to be more receptive to direct massage. This step by step approach is the defining characteristic of TSM.

After gaining an understanding of the anatomy of the peripheral speech apparatus and a knowledge of specific massage movements and techniques, the practitioner will be able to design a program of massage for their patients and their specific problems. The focus of the treatment is to allow the patient to gain control of the primary speech muscles in order to facilitate the utterance of normal speech sounds. Although TSM has been extremely successful with a wide variety of speech pathologies, it is not a "silver bullet".

It is important to recognize that TSM must be used in conjunction with the whole range of standard treatments used by all speech therapists.