Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a key focus area for speech pathology. Patients who have difficulties after stroke can now benefit from iPads and a variety of Apps which can be extremely helpful in supporting recovery. This article, from the Speech Pathology Department at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s stroke unit, outlines the role for AAC using iPads as an effective method for facilitating communication and speech.
by Kathie Griffiths
STROKE patients in Bradford are using iPads to help get their speech back.
Speech therapists at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s stroke unit are recommending the hi-tech tablets are used to download speech software so they can practice on their own or with family and friends.
It worked so well for 63-year-old John Barraclough from Wyke, who earlier this year had a stroke out-of-the-blue after a game of golf, that it inspired his wife Linda, 61, to ask her bosses at Yorkshire Building Society, where she works as a facilities administrator, to donate enough money to buy two new iPads for the hospital unit that helped her husband.
The £754 donation from the building society’s Charitable Foundation means the new iPads will also be equipped with the latest speech therapy software.
Mrs Barraclough said: “After John’s stroke he was unable to speak and the speech therapists suggested using his iPad. After downloading some recommended speech software he was able to practise on his own or with friends and family and this has helped, not only his speech but his confidence.
“I was so impressed and inspired that I wanted to do the same for other patients on the ward who were not lucky enough to have their own technology to help them.
“The ward did not have their own iPads or money to buy any so I thought it would be a lovely way to say thank you to the staff who had cared for John if I could help to provide the equipment.”
Yorkshire Building Society’s Charitable Foundation is supported financially by the business, its staff and members, particularly through Yorkshire’s innovative Small Change, Big Difference scheme where over 860,000 members currently donate the pence of their interest to the Foundation.
Thanks to the iPad, its special software and his wife’s support Mr Barraclough, who is a business director, is now stringing words together and making a recovery.
“This was our future that was at stake. We wanted to do everything we could to give him the best chance of recovery. We were lucky enough to have our own iPad and just want to give others the same chance.”
Mr Barraclough was rushed to hospital straight after his stroke where he was treated quickly, helping him regain 98 per cent of his mobility.
“John was fortunate. The quicker stroke symptoms are recognised and acted on the better the outcome. That’s a message everyone needs to know.”
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s lead stroke physician, Dr Chris Patterson, said: “The stroke team very much appreciate the generosity of the Yorkshire Building Society in donating two iPads to the Bradford Stroke Unit.
“iPads have a variety of Apps which can be extremely helpful in supporting recovery for stroke victims, particularly in the areas of communication such as speech and comprehension, information provision and rehabilitation. I have no doubt they will be in permanent use.”
Kathleen Graham, a speech and language therapist from Bradford District Care Trust who works with stroke patients on the BRI’s Ward nine, added: “These new iPads will enable patients to practise speech exercises independently which enhance the sessions that we provide. They will also aid their ability to understand language and lead to a better recovery.”