7 speech exercises that a stroke patient can perform (at home)

7 speech exercises that a stroke patient can perform (at home)
Dec 13, 2020 No Comments Speech and Language Therapy swedesh

There is never sufficient time during the speech therapy sessions and therefore we recommend specific speech exercises for a stroke patient that can be performed at home, without the need of a speech therapist. These are just simple exercises that we found suitable for most stroke patients.

Depending of the level and severity of the patient’s issues, there will be specific speech exercises that will be recommended. These can only be designed for the stroke patient following a comprehensive speech assessment. A speech assessment will determine the level and severity of the patients issues and guide the speech therapist to provide specific exercises for the patient.

Before reading this article, you may want to read through our Comprehensive Guide to speech therapy for stroke patients.

While these may appear simple exercises, a stroke patient may experience difficulty with these exercises initially. However, the speed and accuracy of these tasks will improve over time. It is a matter of persevering with the exercises.

One important aspect to note, is that recovering language after a stroke is more difficult than the recovery of motor skills (moving of limbs and walking). This is because language is a higher order function that requires thinking and cognition.

The following are some simple exercises that can be performed at home :

1. Tongue Strengthening Exercises

This will help you learn to plan breathing pauses as you relearn how to construct sentences and breathe properly during speech.

The formation of words is another common symptom of speech impairment in stroke patients.

Tongue stretches and exercises will strengthen the muscle and make it easier for stroke patients to make the proper sounds to form words. It also helps to strengthen the neural pathways and the “muscle memory” of speech that patients can lose after having a stroke.

One such exercise is sticking the tongue in and out. Simply push out the tongue and leave it out for a few seconds. Pull the tongue back in. Repeat this process multiple times per day.

The tongue can also be strengthened side to side. The patient can also practice touching their tongue and hold it to specific areas of the mouth when instructed to better their ability to control the tongue during speech.

2. Breathing exercises

A common symptom of aphasia and speech impairment in stroke patients is trouble regulating breathing while speaking. This can cause people to take breaths in the middle of sentences, which makes it difficult to speak at length as well as be understood by listeners.

Doing breathing exercises can help you regulate your breathing while speaking much easier. Practice planning out the breaths you’ll take while speaking. Repeat sentences and breaths to yourself to master when taking a breath is appropriate.

While you are assisting your loved one, here are some tips on how to work with a patient who has Aphasia.

3. Practicing Speech Sounds

Making the right sounds and the right words are difficult for aphasia patients. Focused practice on specific sounds and words can be great home exercises for stroke patients.

For example, have the patient practice repeating similar sounds: “Ah, ay, at, al, ack… etc.” Practice saying this set many times in a row before moving to another set. This will exercise the mouth and tongue to practice forming sounds and words.

You should focus on both clarity of the sound (making them as clear and understandable as possible) as well as on the strength (make it loud to strengthen the throat and be understandable).

You can also practice repeating specific words to get the sounds and movements correct. As you improve, you can increase the difficulty of the words you repeat.

4. Kiss exercises

Another simple exercise that will improve facial and oral motor skills is to practice the kiss face.

Pucker your lips in a kissing motion and relax.

Repeat this exercise frequently and at different speeds.

5. Smile exercises

Another exercise that will improve facial and oral motor skills is to practice smiling.

The patient needs to be smile and then relax the face.

Repeat this exercise frequently and at different speeds.

6. Picture Matching

This task will assist visual memory and picture recognition.

The task entails showing a picture to the patient and for the patient to choose a similar picture from an array of pictures in front of them. You can make your own picture cards for this, or you can purchase a picture card game at your local educational game store.

7. Naming of the Pictures

Some patients struggle with word retrieval. For these patients, you can ask the patient to name the picture in the card. This will assist in improving the patient’s vocabulary and exercise the patient’s use of their vocal cords.

Conclusion

These exercises should ideally complement formal targeted speech therapy sessions.

Please let me know in the comments below whether the exercises above assisted your stroke patient and which ones were the most beneficial.

In the comments below, also recommend other exercises which may have worked for you.

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