After a stay in intensive care, patients sometimes suffer from voice and swallowing problems. Speech therapy is then necessary. But speech therapists are struggling to cope with all the demands of Covid patients.

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Covid: Shortage of speech therapists for patient care

During the first wave, Christian, 67, developed a severe form of Covid. He was in an induced coma for 36 days. Intubation damaged his vocal cords. “Before, to speak, it was impossible. I had to write on a piece of paper. It is the vocal cord that is always blocked. I would love to do what I did before, but it’s shabby. I feel like I left half of me in sheaves. ”

Damaged vocal cords

Like Christian, many patients lost their voice after long stays in intensive care. It is during intubation that the vocal cords can be damaged, when the probe passes through the trachea to go to the lungs and distribute oxygen. To regain good use of his vocal cords, Christian has been consulting a speech therapist for five months. On the program, voice articulation and breathing exercises.

The average time is one year to consult a speech therapist

The care of these patients is urgent, to avoid the after-effects and the risk of aspiration. The demands on speech therapists keep increasing. Problem: the waiting time for an appointment is over a year.

According to Elodie Pascual, vice-president of the National Federation of Speech-Language Pathologists, “We are in a vicious circle: we are not enough and we are badly distributed. The whole profession is making an extra effort to receive all Covid patients. So we try to juggle all the patients who arrive in some fairly numerous regions. ” Access to care for these patients is essential, to avoid any risk of aggravation.