September 14, 2018
Rehabilitation after a stroke can help people get back some or all of their skills. Speech therapists specialize in communication, but caregivers play a huge role in helping their loved ones who are trying to regain their language skills.
The type of language impairment depends on which part of the brain has been affected by the stroke. But some of the aspects of speech or language that can be affected include:
Speech motor skills (dysarthria)
Language - the ability to understand or produce language (aphasia)
Thinking and memory
APHASIA AFTER A STROKE
Aphasia,is what results when the language component of the brain is affected. When someone is diagnosed with Aphasia, their communication, not intelligence, is impacted. Something that many people are surprised by, is that it's not only speech that can be impacted but all types of language based communication including reading, listening or speaking, or any combination.
PEOPLE WITH APHASIA HAVE REPORTED
As caregivers, we have a difficult time understanding what a person who's had a stroke feels like. But some people who've recovered have suggested some tips about how to help.
Look at the person directly at the person when talking to them
Speak in a normal tone, slowly and clearly
Try communicating by writing
Tell the person you understand that they might be frustrated
Make sure there isn't a lot of noise in the background
Relate to the person by their hobbies and interests
Use short sentences that are about 1 topic at a time
Give the person a chance to communicate, let them take their time and don't finish their sentences
Try not to talk down to the person; remember that aphasia doesn't affect intelligence
As a speech therapist, I try to encourage adults who have suffered from a stroke and their caregivers to engage in language based activities at home. After all, no matter how much speech therapy someone attends, it's not as much time as they spend at home with their loved ones. So here are some of the activities my patients like best at home:
Play a favorite card game - Even if the person can't name the card, just playing a game with strategy stimulates important cognitive processes.
Play music and sing songs - It still surprises me to see people who can't speak after a stroke belt out their favorite song. Some people can end up singing with more ease since the singing part of the brain is different from the language part of the brain. Find out what their favorite music is and sing along. You can even try "Happy Birthday."
Discuss hobbies - look at pictures or read magazines about the person's hobbies. Gardening, favorite game shows, sports or cooking. If someone is passionate about the topic they are more likely to want to make an effort to talk about it.
Look at a family album - Seeing photos of loved ones from the past helps stimulate memory. You can name family members or talk about events. Remember that some people will become emotional looking at these photos.
Go through paperwork or objects - Take a look at the objects or notes from the person's life. Anything from work to family or hobbies can give you topics of conversation.
To get help with diagnosis or treatment, or to schedule a free consultation with a speech therapist, please contact me at Speech Therapy that Works.