SPEECH pathology is more than treating stutters and lisps, and widening the perception of the profession is among the aims of Speech Pathology Week this week.
Treating any type of communication difficulty falls into the realm of speech pathologists' work, as well helping to overcome swallowing difficulties.
The New England Area Health Service celebrated Speech Pathology Week with a lunch at the Tamworth Community Health Centre yesterday for members of relevant community support groups.
Tamworth Base Hospital speech pathologist in charge Jo Starky said Speech Pathology Week was an ideal time to acknowledge the important role of community support groups.
She said support groups had a positive impact on the health system and improved members' quality of life.
"Support groups are run by volunteers and a lot of groups are struggling for members," she said.
"Speech pathologists have input into the support groups through education.
"This year Speech Pathology Week highlights the work of speech pathologists in regional and rural towns and centres and we are acknowledging the support group members motoring away out there."
Ten speech pathologists attended the lunch along with members of hearing, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis support groups, the Stroke Recovery Club, Cleft Pals and the Spastic Centre.
New England Area Health Service speech pathologist, Christina Lips-comb said there was an Australia-
wide shortage of speech pathologists.
She said Speech Pathology Week was an opportunity to let the community know how they can bring treatment strategies into the home.
"Family members can take an active role in the treatment of communication difficulties, and we would like to thank them for being an integral part of speech pathology treatment in this area," Ms Lipscomb said.