Shelley Paulson

Qualifications:

Shelley Paulson is a specialized speech language pathologist with more than 25 years of experience in the treatment of voice disorders, swallowing disorders, head and neck cancer, head injuries, stroke patients, orofacial myology, Parkinson's patients, ALS patients, and accent reduction. Her expertise in treating voice disorders includes treatment of vocal nodules, vocal polyps, dysphonias, vocal fold dysfunction and vocal cord paralysis.

Shelley's speech pathology career started back at San Diego State University where she began studying the Spanish language. One day, while on campus, Shelley happened to stumble into the Speech Pathology Department and observed a speech session where a patient was learning to form sounds after regaining his hearing. Shelley explains that this was the pivotal moment in her career path that launched her dedication to learning about Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Shelley graduated in 1978 from Long Beach State University where she received a Bachelor of the Arts degree. Shelley earned her Master's degree “with distinction” at the University of Nevada Reno in 1982 where she was able to train under pioneers in voice rehabilitation. It was here that Shelley first developed an interest in working with voice disorder patients.

In 1982 Shelley and her husband Jim relocated to Las Vegas so that Jim could join the Lido de Paris orchestra as a trumpet player. Shelley worked for eight years at the University Medical Center where she played an instrumental role in developing the most comprehensive swallowing clinic in the city. In addition, Shelley also developed the infant stimulation program in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, for high-risk infants during her time at the University Medical Center.

Shelley met her longtime business partner, Jil Gertz, at the University Medical Center in 1983 and together they formed a team that provided specialized treatment for both adult and pediatric patients. In 1998 Healthsouth, a large healthcare service provider in the Las Vegas valley acquired their practice, and Shelley worked on the rehabilitation unit at Summerlin Hospital. However, Shelley and Jil wanted to focus more on quality of service and they reopened their private practice in 2004.

Experiences:

In 1996, Dr. Eric Blom personally trained Shelley in the evaluation and sizing of patients with the Blom-Singer voice prosthesis. Since then, Shelley has developed a passion for treating laryngectomee patients. One patient in particular had his larynx (voice box) removed, and hadn't had a voice for over 2 months. Once Shelley inserted the prosthesis into the tracheo-esophageal puncture, the patient spoke the words, “I love you,” to his wife sitting across the room. When asked about this experience Shelley exclaimed, “I will never forget the joy on both the patient and wife's face that day.”

Shelley is trained to use the Visi-pitch computerized voice program providing both visual and auditory feedback, which has proven to be extremely beneficial in improving vocal outcome. In addition, Shelley has worked alongside several professional singers employed in various production shows on the Las Vegas strip, which has provided both extreme reward and interesting experience to Shelley's career.

Shelley treats a wide range of swallowing disorders. Her evaluation includes a comprehensive video-fluorographic study of the swallow function with an individualized treatment program. Shelley was one of the first SLPs to perform this study in this community 25 years ago and has been instrumental in educating hospital staff and doctors, regarding patients who experience swallowing difficulties. Shelley is trained and certified in neuromuscular electrical stimulation, which has proven to be highly beneficial in improving the swallowing function. For patients who suffer from swallowing disorders, life can be very difficult. Shelley explained, “When patients are able to get rid of their feeding tube and begin eating by mouth, we usually go out to lunch to celebrate!”

Shelley is certified in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, and has witnessed significant beneficial results from this approach. She has been asked to speak at the annual Parkinson Convention a number of times. “My favorite result with the LSVT approach is seeing the family members' expressions when they are able to hear their loved ones voice. Very often, tears are involved and it is a very rewarding part of my job.”

Recently, Shelley has become more involved in working with non-verbal patients (ALS or stroke patients) by providing computerized augmentative devices through Dynavox. She works closely with the Dynavox company to provide funding, and training for each patient. Shelley is currently seeing a stroke patient who wants to return to work. After learning about the patient's desires, Shelley programmed job interview questions into the Dynavox, and referred the patient to vocational rehabilitation. “My job does not stop with speech. I try and see the patient as a whole, understanding their goals and their desires to return to society as a productive member. I also pay close attention to the quality of life for the individual.”

Shelley has two daughters and has been happily married for over 34 years. She enjoys playing tennis, spending time with friends, cheering for the San Diego Chargers and sitting on the Southern California beach. Shelley truly values life and the many challenges and experiences she faces each day. She credits her accomplishments to her faith in God.