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Speech pathology restores Rachel’s smile


Initially Rachel ignored her crooked smile, thinking it would come right. When her symptoms worsened, she said she started to feel “embarrassed and ashamed.”

A few days after losing her smile, Rachel was unable to move either side of her face, couldn’t speak clearly, and was having trouble keeping fluids in her mouth.

She came to Cabrini and was assessed by our speech pathology team. It was determined Rachel was suffering from paralysis of the face resulting from Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

As Speech Pathology Week 2022 draws to a close, Rachel wanted to share her story with others to help raise the awareness of not only this condition, but the role of speech pathologists in hospitals.

“It was attending speech pathology appointments that allowed me to see that something was wrong.”

Rachel said while in hospital the hardest part was not being able to engage with people properly. Her speech pathologist, Nicole Reyes, remembers, “Rachel had some challenges with getting certain sounds out, so we looked at how to get the lips positioned and the face taped in order to achieve clear speech. We don’t think about it, but our face muscles do so much: eating, talking, and smiling – so many things we do throughout the day.”

“I had to find new ways of communicating, sharing, and supporting the ladies who were with me – it’s part of the hospital experience.”

Following two hospital admissions and outpatient visits, Rachel said she had an appreciation for what speech pathologists could offer.

“It was great to have some tactile input to help with the facial changes . . . and it was great to have some education about the anatomy to have a roadmap out of this.”

A year later, Rachel has returned to work and is smiling and speaking normally.

“Speech Pathology was a big part of my recovery,” Rachel said.

For more information on Cabrini’s Speech Pathology and Allied Health services, go to