Speech therapy for a stroke patient (The Ultimate guide)

Speech therapy for a stroke patient (The Ultimate guide)
Dec 13, 2020 2 Comments Speech and Language Therapy swedesh

This guide is a comprehensive study of speech impairment and speech therapy issues which occur in stroke patients and covers the following broad topics:

Introduction

Thousands of people across the world suffer from strokes each year. In the US alone, there are approximately 800,000 current stroke cases.

The majority of strokes occur in people who are 65 or older. As many as 10% of people in the U.S. who experience a stroke are younger than 45.

American Heart Association - Stroke statistics across the United States.
Statistics about Strokes across the United States

In South Africa there are approximately 95,000 people living with a stroke disability.

Strokes can lead to:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Cognitive issues
  • Speech impairment issues (Aphasia)
  • Decreased emotional control
  • Death

I hope that you find this guide meets your requirements. If not, please post a comment below and I will respond to specific query. I will also update the article to cater for a more comprehensive guide. Your comment will also assist in improving this article.

So, lets dive into the topic :

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a sudden interruption of oxygen to the brain which can lead to impairments including but not limited to paralysis, lack of movement in the body, and the overall ability to communicate.

How does one get a stroke?

There are two main causes of a stroke:

  • a blocked artery, resulting in a loss of blood supply (ischemic stroke) OR
  • leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke).

Some people may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), that doesn’t cause lasting symptoms.

The possible side effects of a stroke

  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Cognitive issues
  • Speech impairment issues (Aphasia)
  • Decreased emotional control

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects our ability to communicate. It is most often caused by a stroke that occurs in the part of the brain that controls speech and language. The language center resides in the left hemisphere of the brain. Therefore aphasia occurs after a left hemisphere stroke or brain injury.

An informative short video below explaining the parts of the brain that are affected by a stroke and the effects on speech.

What are the signs of Aphasia?

A stroke can affect people differently. Aphasia in particular manifests itself at different intensities for different patients.

Signs of Aphasia include :

  • Trouble finding words or getting the words out
  • Problems understanding others
  • Difficulty with reading, writing or math
  • Inability to process long or unfamiliar words

What other speech therapy issues can be expected after a stroke?

Other speech issues that can be experienced after a stroke include :

  • difficulty in understanding or producing speech correctly (aphasia),
  • slurred speech consequent to weak muscles (dysarthria), and/or
  • difficulty in programming oral muscles for speech production (apraxia).
  • Some individuals may also have difficulty in social communication, such as difficulty taking turns in conversation and problems maintaining a topic of conversation.

While this article is targeted specifically at speech therapy for a stroke patient, a comparative article on the other side effects of a stroke, symptoms and preventative measures can be found here : https://www.strokesurvivors.org.za/stroke/

How can speech therapy help a stroke patient?

The stroke patient can expect some degree of “spontaneous recovery” in the days, weeks, and months following a stroke. During this time, physical, cognitive, and communication deficits may improve on their own as the brain heals. Specific intervention can enhance and speed up this spontaneous recovery.

In addition, the therapeutic benefits of social interaction is always beneficial to the patients overall well being and continuous interaction with society and rehabilitation toward a normal lifestyle.

A Speech and Language therapist can help improve communication skills beyond what will naturally occur after the stroke. The speed of rehabilitation is also greatly enhanced through regular speech therapy.

To improve a stroke patient’s ability to understand or produce language, the therapist will work on specific drills and strategies such as :

  • word retrieval;
  • conversational skills;
  • Role playing is extremely effective in re-teaching social skills which require both word retrieval and conversation.
  • When dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing occurs, there are a host of therapeutic interventions;
An excellent short video below, which provides more detail on the types of Aphasia and touches on some of the speech therapy techniques that can assist.

How can Nishara Mooruth assist?

At Nishara Mooruth, the therapists are qualified and experienced at dealing with stroke patients. The first step is to conduct a thorough assessment of the patient to understand the level of speech impairment. This will provide the therapist a detailed breakdown of where speech intervention can have the most influential benefit. It will also give an indication of which exercises are required to deliver the best results.

A therapy program is designed around the findings of the assessment and therapy can begin.

Is on-line remote speech therapy (teletherapy) suitable for a stroke patient?

On-line remote therapy is suitable for stroke patients when there are specific speech exercises that can be performed to assist with the rehabilitation. In some instances, where the stroke patient has suffered more severe impact of the stroke (eg with swollowing difficulties), a remote therapy solution may not be suitable.

At Nishara Mooruth and Associates, we will design a therapy solution that will meet and suit the patients specific circumstance and need.

On-Line speech therapy or teletherapy has great benefits to the patient. Read more here : On-Line Speech therapy

Funding of speech therapy in South Africa

The funding by medical plans differ across the world.

In South Africa, most medical aids do cover some rehabilitation after a stroke. This will depend entirely on the medical aid policy and plan that the patient is a member of. Please contact your medical to determine the benefit applicable to you.

There are also emergency response services for strokes in South Africa. The Arrive Alive Emergency Response can be found here: https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Strokes-and-Emergency-Response

Conclusion

Thanks for reading through this guide.

I hope it met your expectations and answered the questions you may have had. Please let me know in the comments below if it has answered your question and where there may still be unanswered questions. This will definitely assist in improving this guide for future readers.

What speech issues have you or anyone you know experienced after a stroke? Post your answers below.

Take action now, our advice is free and invaluable, so book an appointment now.

Great speech therapy tip!

The best advise that we can impart to you at this stage is to be be patient.

It is unfortunate that this incident happened to your loved one. The recovery is never quick. Therapy takes time and constant repetition helps. This will take time and patience.

Time and Patience will heal all!

References

Thanks to Eugene Speech Therapy for use of their videos within this article.

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  1. 1

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

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

    Reply
  2. 1

    Tanay

    Very informative article. This article will be very useful for anyone who has suffered from a stroke

    Reply

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