About Therapies for Improving Speech after a Stroke
Language and speech skills are among the most common problems after a stroke, due to the various areas in the brain involved that may vary between individuals. A stroke may impair a person’s language and speech, and it is important for stroke victims to see a qualified speech and language specialist.
What Is the Difference Between Speech and Language?
Language and speech are interconnected, but are not the same thing. Speech refers to the production of communicative sounds and language involves organising thoughts into sentences to convey a topic.
How Can a Speech and Language Pathologist Help?
Speech pathologists can assess patients who have had a stroke. They can observe the patients and help the families to understand how the stroke has affected their relatives.
Patients can be examined to determine the levels communication they possess, and their ability to comprehend language. They may or may not be able to find the words they want to express their thoughts. Speech pathologists will also assess the articulation skills and the voice quality of a person who has had a stroke.
After speech pathologists determine the capabilities and areas of difficulty, targeted treatment strategies will help the patient to develop communication means. Recovering stroke patients need to have the ability to communicate their wants and needs. If patients have lost their ability to verbalise their thoughts, speech pathologists can help in rebuilding those skills.
How Long Will Recovery Take?
The rate of recovery varies by individual, depending on the severity and location of their stroke. If spontaneous recovery occurs, it will usually occur in the first 12 to 24 weeks after the stroke. Speech therapists can aid patients in making the most of their recovery and in developing strategies for other areas where full abilities will not be regained.
The brain must be challenged and stimulated, and this will help the stroke patient to make strides in the right direction. Patients need to continue talking even if it is not easy for them to do so. This is achieved with different modes of communication on a continuous basis.
Short Rounds of Speech Therapy Can Be Helpful
Intensive, short rounds of speech therapy may be helpful in restoring speech and language skills lost during a stroke. In some instances, stroke victims with understanding or speaking difficulties may show positive improvement in communication and language skills after short term with intensive speech therapy.
Aphasia, or language impairment, occurs in over one third of patients who survive a left-side stroke. Many patients will recover within several months, but over half of patients are still language-challenged after six months. This is called chronic aphasia.
Newer techniques of speech therapy may combine intense communication training using language games that help to build simple and complex language skills. This technique will encourage patients to use more speech and fewer gestures as their main method of communication.
Language skills will improve at different rates, depending on the severity of the stroke and the victims support base. The goal is to sustain improvement over the months following therapy.
If you have any questions or concerns about how therapies can improve speech after a stroke contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist in Sydney.
If you have questions about speech and language make an appointment to see one of our speech pathologists.