Stroke

Stroke recovery: communication disorders

Although many people found that their ability to communicate recovered rapidly after their stroke some were left with on-going problems or had severe communication difficulties which they required help with. 

One woman found that her initial ability to hold a basic conversation came back very quickly but that further recovery had taken a long time - she had required help from a speech therapist and had to do a lot of practice. Another man was told the importance of keeping trying to speak no matter how odd it sounded as this was the only way he would improve.

Speech and Language Therapy

People whose communication (speaking, understanding, reading and writing) had been affected by the stroke usually saw a speech therapist in the hospital and sometimes after they left hospital in the community. Speech and language therapists sometimes also saw people if they were having problems with swallowing or if they had facial weakness (see 'Eating and drinking').

The help people received was matched to the problems they were experiencing. 

People with slurred speech due to weakness of the facial muscles (dysarthria) were often asked to practice vowels, consonants and simple words. 

Others were given limericks and poems to practice the speed and volume of their speech. One man had practiced speaking in time to a metronome but did not find this at all helpful.

Going right back to basics of learning to speak could feel like being a child again which was frustrating or annoying for some people.

People who had damage to the language areas of the brain (aphasia or dysphasia) often needed help with speech, understanding, reading and writing. They were helped to find the best way of communicating. 

One man explained that he had been given help with reading, comprehension and writing cheques and letters]. Another woman was given exercises to help with her problems with word finding.

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One man who had great difficulty finding words was given a card to explain to people that he had had a stroke (see 'Speech and communication'). Another man who could only speak a few words of English was given sheets of cartoon drawings to help him communicate. 

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People's experiences of speech therapy had varied dramatically. Some were very complimentary about speech therapists who they felt had been dedicated and sympathetic to their problems. Others felt that speech therapists had been discouraging and depressed them, or had given up on them too quickly, either because of lack of funding or because they did not take time to understand them. 

See the Stroke Association factsheet ‘Speech and language therapy after stroke’ for more information.

Self help for communication

Practicing communication was seen as very important and some people decided that they would do things to help themselves. These included: 

  • Using children's books to practice reading and writing;
  • Reciting nursery rhymes and passages of Shakespeare;
  • Saying the names of famous sports personalities;
  • Carefully watching the news to copy how the news reader was speaking;
  • Persevering talking with friends or family no matter how difficult it was.

Several people had joined a support group for people with communication problems following stroke and found it good to meet other people with similar problems and practice communicating in a supportive environment. Connect is a voluntary group in London for people with a communication disability following stroke.


 

Last reviewed August 2013
Last updated October 2010

 

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