See our Stroke Home Page for a full list of information relating to Stroke, Dysarthria, Aphasia, and startegies for improving communication.
Recovering from a stroke
Some neurological diseases are slowly progressive so the individual has time to prepare for his impairment and can have strategies ready. However, the impairment is often sudden after a stroke and both the patient and family may be disorientated and not sure what to do next. Despite the debilitating nature of stroke much can be done to support and improve communication with speech therapy.
Recovering from a stroke can take time, and the early period, following the stroke can be a difficult time for the individual and his family. There will be many medical professionals involved, but once the individual has stabilised and you want to investigate speech and language difficulties, ideally consult a Speech and Language Pathologist / Therapist (SLT). The SLT should be part of the hospital team and will initially assess swallowing and communication. Sometimes the patient will be very confused and disorientated, and initially it is important that family members are there to offer support. Individuals that have suffered a stroke may have difficulty understanding what others are saying. They may appear to understand things, but may be just picking up key words and contextual cues. When assessed by a speech therapist/pathologist it often becomes apparent that some stroke patients understanding is severely compromised (although this may improve in time). They may also have difficulty talking or saying the right things. The hospital speech therapist will assess and monitor communication, and once the nature of the communication delay is identified, you can begin to look at strategies and therapy options. The SLT will be able to assess, diagnose and suggest appropriate strategies and/or therapy.
Often in the first few weeks following a stroke the brain will, to some extent, repair itself and heal. This may mean that initially the individual appears to have quite a severe communication difficulty but over the first few weeks improves well. However, this is not always the case and improvement may be slow and limited.
If speech and language is compromised when a stroke first occurs, it may be worth using a visual chart with pictures of important and common things so the individual has more chance of understanding and expressing some basic needs. Sometimes a pencil and paper may be handy as the individual may not be intelligible following a stroke, but still have writing skills. It is also important to be patient, make your language and sentences short and simple, and add to your language with pictures and gesture. Our Downloads Centre contains a series of picture charts that can help with communication – Click Here.
For more information about communication difficulties, and ideas and strategies to help communication, see our Resources, or for specific fact-sheets and picture charts with helpful hints about Stroke and improving communication go to the Downloads Section.
For a wider range of books, click here to see our Bookshop.