Meet the Better Speech & Swallow Staff
Karen J. Sowers, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Pathologist and founder of Better Speech and Swallow Corporation
Karen J. Sowers received her Masters of Science in Speech Language Pathology from Towson University in 1993. Initially starting her career in skilled nursing and sub-acute care, she established a firm foundation and passion for the treatment of swallowing disorders. Karen subcontracted for Maryland Neuro-Rehab Foundation working with head injury and stroke clients prior to coming to work in acute care at the beginning of 2000. Gaining acute care experience, including Modified Barium Swallow proficiency in radiology and multi-complex care in ICU, she took this knowledge and began mentoring and instructing less experienced clinicians and student speech therapists.
Most recently, prior to founding her own company, Karen managed the Rehabilitation Department for Frederick Memorial Hospital including inpatient, the sub-acute unit and campus outpatient program. During this time, she has gained certification in both DPNS (Deep Pharyngeal Neuromuscular Stimulation) and VitalStim, both used in the treatment of swallowing disorders. Karen is also certified in LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment), working with patients to improve their speech and voice function.
When not at work, Karen enjoys time with her husband and family, and relaxing by the water. Also, she enjoys spending her time with the local mission group of her church.
Marna Zeidman, M.S., CCC-SLP
Marna completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences in 2001 at The University of Maryland, College Park, and completed her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2004 at James Madison University.
Her clinical experience includes graduate internships at Shock Trauma in Baltimore and Winchester Medical Center and professional experience at skilled nursing/sub-acute rehab facilities. She worked for five years on the Brain Injury Unit at Kernan Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Hospital where she coordinated the Coma Emergence Program. She currently specializes in the treatment of dysphagia, tracheostomy management, and cognitive and communication disorders. Marna is proficient in MBS (Modified Barium Swallow studies) and is a certified provider of Vital Stim (neuro-muscular stimulation for the improvement of swallowing). She has lectured at local conferences on the topics of interdisciplinary rehab approach and disorders of consciousness following brain injury.
In her free time, Marna enjoys cooking and spending time outdoors with her son Luke.
Danielle Walters, M.S., CCC/SLP
Danielle Walters has been working in the field of speech-language pathology for over 13 years. First obtaining a B.S. in Biology from Wilson College in 1993, her interest in speech therapy grew after working in a nursing home for several years. She went on to receive a 2nd B.S. and then a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology in 2000. Her skills as an excellent student clinician allowed for an immediate position at the outpatient clinic she was interning for, and she remained in the outpatient clinic for well over 12 years.
In this setting, she performed evaluations and treatments for a wide variety of speech, language, cognitive, voice and swallowing disorders within primarily the adult population. She has also had some experience with pediatric speech, language and cognitive disorders. Danielle had the opportunity to serve as lead SLP for the Maryland Neuro Rehab Foundation as well as the neurological team. Danielle held the title of Certified Brain Injury Specialist for several years and is currently certified in Deep Pharyngeal Neuromuscular Stimulation, Electrical Facial Stimulation, VitalStim and in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment – LOUD program. She also has over 12 years experience in performing/interpreting MBS studies.
In addition to the outpatient setting, Danielle has worked in the skilled nursing facility. She enjoyed the challenges of this particular setting, while honing her skills to meet the needs of the geriatric and subacute patient populations.
During her spare time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. Other interests include reading, as well as baking, especially during the holidays.
Received her Masters of Science degree from Loyola University in Maryland, in 1994. She gained a firm foundation in medical speech-language pathology by spending the first ten years of her career in the acute care, outpatient and home health settings providing assessment and treatment of speech, language, cognition and swallowing disorders for a variety of neurological impairments. She was certified in the American Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists in 2003, is a certified provider of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program and has received the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s ACE award several times for her continuous pursuit of continuing education in the field of speech-language pathology.
Also, she has provided community education on the effects of neurologic impairment on speech and language and the LSVT program for voice restoration for Parkinson’s disease through various interviews for local televison news, newspapers and radio talk show programs.
Since 2006, Kymberli has focused her efforts on serving children of all ages with various speech, language and pragmatic impairments. she particularly enjoys working with families of children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is trained in the use of the Affect Based Language Curriculum, Floortime approaches and the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Kymberli has partnered with other professionals including Occupational Therapists and Board Certified Behavior Analysts to assist in providing the most effective interventions for her pediatric clients.
Aisha Abdul- Samad, M.S., CCC/SLP
Aisha started her professional career after obtaining her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology in 1998. After her undergraduate degree, she landed an entry level position as a clinical assistant on an inpatient neurobehavioral unit in Baltimore providing direct care to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/developmental disabilities. While implementing clinical protocols on this unit, it was evident that many of the patient’s behaviors were linked to their inability to effectively communicate their basic needs. Observing the speech therapists’ role in facilitating functional communication and addressing feeding/swallowing impairments, Aisha was inspired to pursue a career in Speech Language Pathology.
Aisha went on to complete a second bachelor’s degree and ultimately a Master’s of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology at Towson University in 2004. Her externships consisted of a placement at a 243 bed teaching hospital in downtown Baltimore as well as a special needs program at a school in Baltimore County. Her post graduate fellowship was completed at a rural hospital in Pennsylvania providing services to both children and adults ranging from infants to geriatrics within a variety of settings including acute, subacute, home health, early intervention, and outpatient environments.
After completing her fellowship, Aisha became certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and has worked as a medical speech language pathologist since 2004. The majority of her caseload has consisted of adults with acute neurological,cardiopulmonary, and gastrointestinal diseases who have speech, cognitive communication, and/or swallowing disorders. Her functional based and client focused approach to therapy has been center in her delivery of the highest standards of care. Aisha also utilizes the most updated therapeutic tools in her service delivery, which includes the use of IPAD software for speech/language stimulation, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) in the treatment of adults with swallowing disorders, and instrumental swallow evaluations using Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) studies. Aisha has been VitalStim certified to provide NMES since 2013 and has had 12 years of experience performing MBS studies in coordination with area hospital radiology departments. She currently provides flexible hours of services at a Level III hospital where she performs bedside evaluations on the critical care/stroke units as well as performs MBS studies in order to stay abreast of current healthcare trends.
Aside from acute care, Aisha also enjoys the challenge of working with chronically ill geriatrics in subacute/long term care facilities. She is passionate about helping patients with declining cognitive and swallowing abilities to maintain the highest level of independence possible. She has completed dementia training and cultural sensitivity courses which enhance her bedside relationships. Aisha has spent her career teaming with families, dietitians, physicians, social workers, and therapists to help in discharge planning and the end of life decision-making process.
Although the majority of her career as a speech language pathologist has been with adults, Aisha still adores working with children with special needs. She has a combined total of 3 years experience delivering pediatric services including two years at an outpatient clinic and a year with early intervention programs. She enjoys working on developing pre-feeding skills, language expansion, and social skills through play. She has used concepts from her background in applied behavioral psychology to encourage the child’s motivation to participate in therapy and reduce maladaptive behaviors that limit treatment progress. She believes wholeheartedly in a family centered and inter-discipline approach to both evaluation and treatment. During her early years working with children in rural Pennsylvania, one of Aisha’s biggest satisfactions was her partnership with occupational and physical therapists to plan and develop the facility’s first sensory integration camp.
When not seeing patients, Aisha enjoys spending time with her family, dining out, attending cultural events, and singing/dancing around the house to streaming music.