How Speech-Language Therapy Can Help Stroke Patients

How Speech-Language Therapy Can Help Stroke PatientsEach year, strokes affect more than 795,000 Americans, leaving many with lasting side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A stroke occurs when a clogged or erupted artery interrupts blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die because of the lack of oxygen. Many stroke victims are left with physical, sensory, cognitive and communication deficits, which can take weeks, months or even years to improve depending on the stroke’s severity.

Stroke deficits and speech-language therapy

Some of the most common speech-language deficits following a stroke are:
  • Aphasia: difficulty understanding and producing speech properly
  • Dysarthria: slurred speech because of muscle weakness
  • Apraxia: knowing what one wants to say, but having trouble saying it because of discoordination between the brain and the muscles used for speech
  • Cognitive- Communicative: difficulties in attention, memory, problem solving, awareness and reasoning
  • Dysphagia:  trouble swallowing due to weakened muscles and/or muscle coordination

How speech-language pathologists work with stroke patients

Depending upon the person’s deficits, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will create a customized treatment program tailored to the skills upon which the client would like to improve.

To help someone improve their ability to understand and produce language, an SLP may focus on treatments which include practicing word retrieval, exercising conversation skills in a group setting, having structured discussions and role-playing everyday communication situations.

If the client has weakness in the muscles used for speech production or trouble coordinating their speech movements, an SLP can provide strategies focused on making speech more understandable and how to compensate for muscle weakness. They may also utilize augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies, which include all forms of communication (other than oral speech) used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.

AAC technologies come in two forms: For those who struggle swallowing, an SLP will evaluate the client’s current swallowing abilities and recommend feeding techniques, diet changes and/or proper body positioning for swallowing safely.

In order to help a improve the cognitive skills of a patient who has had a stroke, the SLP may introduce certain strategies into the person’s routine such as using a daily planner/organizer and writing down a variety of activities to help with recalling events.

Speech-language therapy after a stroke can enhance someone’s recovery period. SLPs and SLP students at the Speech-Language Institute of Salus University work with stroke victims daily to provide them with the most effective strategies and exercises for recovery.

 If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke and is in need of speech-language treatment, contact us today.