Katie Stubblefield holds a unique distinction. Not only is she one of only 40 people in the world who has received a face transplant, but she is also the youngest face transplant recipient in the United States.
Stubblefield, who survived a suicide attempt in 2014, got her face transplant just a little over a year ago in 2017. Because much of her face was destroyed by the bullet that nearly ended her life, Stubblefield's transplant was basically a restructuring of her entire face. It included transplanting the scalp, forehead, eyelids, eye sockets, and much of the cheeks and jaw. Much of the facial skin, muscles, bones, and nerves needed to be added or reconstructed as part of her face transplant.
Since her transplant, 22-year-old Stubblefield has undergone an assortment of treatment to help her regain her life. An important part of her treatment has been her speech therapy.
For Stubblefield, speech therapy includes:
- Learning to use her facial muscles correctly. This will help her to move her mouth properly, so she can form words that other people can understand.
- Exercises to help her improve her pronunciation.
- The practice of similar words to help her articulate the subtle differences in sounds.
- Forming sentences so she can speak entire thoughts in a way that others can understand what she's saying and so that she can speak at an appropriate speed.
- Repeated practice of these skills. Speech therapy does not happen all at once. It takes practice, repetition, and a lot of patience.
- Laughter and a sense of humor. Without making speech therapy into a fun experience, the person can only practice the same skills over and over again so many times without feeling discouraged or tired.
While Katie's circumstances may be extreme in comparison to others, there are many people in the world who need speech therapy assistance.To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
If you would like to make a difference in these people's lives, contact us to learn about some of the jobs we have available in speech therapy.
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