Aphasia Therapy After Stroke: What You Need to Know
In the United States, almost 800,000 people have a stroke each year, with over 30% of survivors experiencing communication impairments as a result and require aphasia treatment. A stroke can make a significant impact on a person’s speech abilities, language comprehension, and reading and writing skills. The speech therapists at Therapy Works Together put together a review for caregivers and patients communication-related issues that can arise after a stroke, as well as how aphasia therapy can help.
How Do Strokes Affect Speech?
An ischemic stroke is one of the most prevalent (there are also other types of strokes), which cuts off blood supply to the brain very drastically, which prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain. This injury can cause a significant number of difficulties, including speech and language problems. This is depending on where the stroke occurred in the brain.
Common Speech and Language Diagnoses After a Stroke
A stroke’s effects on the brain can express itself in a variety of ways depending on the individual. Three communication difficulties that can occur after a stroke are listed below. While comparable symptoms can occur regardless of diagnosis, a comprehensive examination by a physician or speech-language pathologist can assist you in making the best treatment decisions.
- Aphasia: Aphasia is a language disorder which may affect the ability to communicate. Aphasia can make it hard to think of what word to say or understand language. It can also have an impact on one’s ability to read or write which is why someone would need aphasia therapy.
- Apraxia: Apraxia of speech is neurological condition that disrupts the process in which the brain sends signals to the muscles of the mouth (like the lips, jaw, and tongue) which coordinate to make the correct sounds for speech as well as the accurate movements which include a normal speed and rhythm.
- Dysarthria: This is another motor speech disorder but is different in that it stems from a weakness or difficulty controlling the speech muscles. People with dysarthria might sound hoarse, have a soft, strained voice, or slurred or slow speech. People with dysarthria might also have a hard time smiling or puckering their lips while people with apraxia of speech (not oral apraxia) won’t have difficulty with these non speech movements of their mouth
While aphasia, apraxia, and dysarthria are frequent after a stroke, there are a variety of other communication issues that can arise as a result of brain damage. People can suffer from difficulties with understanding social or emotional cues, mood or memory issues, and other communication-related issues. In addition, The American Stroke Association cites that post stroke someone might feel complex emotions like fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, and a sense of grief . This is often made worse when they have lost the ability to communicate, lost speech and language and express this in aphasia therapy with their SLP.
Aphasia and Problems Using or Understanding Language
Language deficits affect 25% of stroke survivors, affecting their ability to speak, write, and understand spoken and written language. Any of the brain’s language-control areas can be damaged by a stroke, which can significantly limit verbal communication and make a person need aphasia therapy.
Here are the general type of aphasia:
- Expressive aphasia: People lose their capacity to speak or write the words they are thinking, as well as their ability to string words together into logical, grammatically accurate phrases. This might be when speech therapy for expressive aphasia is needed.
- Receptive aphasia: People with this disorder have trouble interpreting spoken or written language and frequently speak incoherently. These people can create grammatically perfect phrases, yet their words are frequently meaningless.
- Global aphasia: People lose practically all of their verbal ability; they are unable to grasp or communicate their thoughts via language.
Can Aphasia Therapy Help?
Some people who have had a stroke will recover their functioning over time. Yet others will require help and treatment to make improvements and recover as much functioning as possible. Those requiring treatment should optimally get it right away and over the first few months. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports certain factors that have an impact on the outcome of recovery from a stroke.
Here are some:
- How severe the brain damage was.
- How intense rehabilitation is
- Family and friends working together in cooperation to help the patient. Supportive family and social networks can be a huge help during the healing process, which can take months.
- The rehabilitation’s start date. In general, the earlier it starts, the better the prospects of regaining lost abilities and function, as well as a successful recovery.
Therefore, we encourage speech therapy for aphasia and if there is a specific problem with producing language, speech therapy for expressive aphasia, to begin as soon as a person is able to get to a speech therapist. If you or your loved one has a hard time getting to speech therapy sessions for aphasia, speech therapy online has been shown to be very effective. It allows for the convenience of staying home and still receiving treatment that is critical for aphasia therapy.
How to Support Aphasia Therapy at Home
As caregivers, we have a difficult time understanding what a person who’s had a stroke feels like. The speech therapists at Therapy Works Together have gathered some feedback from previous clients that help us understand what our loved ones suffering after a stroke might need to help them manage communication, speech or language after a stroke.
Here are some tips.
- When speaking with someone, look them in the eyes directly.
- Speak in a regular tone, slowly and clearly.
- If they can read, write notes to the person and let them know you understand their frustration.
- Make sure there isn’t a lot of background noise.
- Make a connection with the person based on their hobbies and interests.
- Use concise sentences that cover only one subject at a time.
- Allow the person to speak freely, allowing them to take their time and not finishing their sentences or thoughts
- Don’t talk down to the person; aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence
- Remember that aphasia can have an impact on a person’s emotional state which they cannot express
As speech therapists, we encourage stroke survivors and their family and caregivers to participate in language-based activities at home to support speech therapy for expressive aphasia. It does not matter how much aphasia speech therapy a person attends with a professional, it will never be as much as the time they spend with their loved ones at home.
Again, the speech therapists at Therapy Works Together put together some of our patients’ favorite hobbies to do at home:
- Play card games – Even if the person is unable to identify the card, simply playing a strategic game stimulates crucial cognitive processes.
- Play music and sing songs – It still astounds us to see people who are unable to communicate after a stroke sing their favorite song. Due to the fact that the singing and speaking parts of the brain are separate, some people may find it easier to sing. Find out what music they enjoy and sing along. “Happy Birthday” or other very well known songs might be another option.
- Discuss hobbies –Look at images of the person’s hobbies or read articles about them. Baking, athletics, or craft projects are some favorite pastimes that we talk about in speech therapy for expressive aphasia. If someone is enthusiastic about a subject, they are more likely to want to talk about it.
- Look at a family album – Seeing old photographs of loved ones can aid to activate memory. You can mention family members or discuss current events that the person with aphasia is interested in. Keep in mind that looking at these photos may cause some people to become emotional.
- Go through paperwork or objects – Examine and explore the items or mementos from the person’s life; old tools or supplies from work, clothing, toys that kids or grandkids used to use all trigger memory and language that is deeply embedded. Work, family, and hobbies can all serve as conversation starters.
If you’ve had a stroke and are having trouble communicating, your doctor will most likely recommend you to a speech-language pathologist and aphasia therapy. Speech therapists are communication professionals who will work with you, your family, and your care team to help you regain normal speech abilities and develop your communication abilities.
Where Can Aphasia Therapy Happen?
Home-based rehabilitation provides a lot of flexibility, by allowing a stroke victim and their rehab team (including nurses, occupational and physical therapists as well as speech therapists) to customize a program to meet their personal needs. A program like this allows a person to practice skills and build compensatory techniques in the comfort of their own home.
This is a great option for people that feel that they do not have the interest or ability to travel to clinics for their therapy. Aphasia therapy can happen online and allows caregivers to learn the strategies and techniques speech therapists use to help improve communication skills due to aphasia.
Aphasia Therapy Techniques Used In Treatment
The particular procedures utilized and the treatment’s goals will be determined by the circumstances of each individual. We have compiled this brief list of what a speech therapist would work on.
All of these techniques can be used and taught online:
- If you have a hard time understanding words, your speech therapist may assign you tasks like matching words to pictures or sorting words according to their meaning. This helps remember meanings of words in aphasia therapy.
- During aphasia therapy, speech therapist may ask you to practice naming pictures or judging whether particular words rhyme if you have trouble expressing yourself.
- They may also ask you to repeat their words or statements, prompting you if necessary.
- Your therapist will focus on your ability to formulate sentences if you can complete tasks with single words.
- If you are engaging in speech aphasia treatment online your therapist might have you listen to music, watch videos, read simple articles if you are able to read and more since there are many materials available online that are easily accessible.
- Depending on your language level, You can work on conversational skills or practice scenarios you engage in often like making a phone call.
- There are a growing number of computer-based programs and apps available to assist people with aphasia in improving their language skills. However, it is critical to begin using these under the supervision of a speech therapist so that you start at the right level for you. This helps avoid frustration and becoming discouraged with aphasia therapy.
Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults
We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.