Better Speech online speech therapy for adults works with patients and caregivers for comfortable and quick improvement.
Recovering from a stroke is a dynamic, and often a challenging process. While rehabilitation after a stroke can help people get back some or all of their skills over time, numerous factors play a part in that recovery. Repetition, practice, and support from family, friends, and caregivers are all important. Speech therapy for adults at home after a stroke can also aid in that recovery.
Speech therapists specialize in communication, but caregivers play a huge role in helping their loved ones who are trying to regain their skills in speech therapy for adults. Better Speech online speech language pathologists collaborate with both the patient and the caregivers, from the beginning to the end for the speech therapy for adults, to help recovery happen as quickly as possible.
A Stroke can Impair Speech, as well as Damage Communication Skills
Every patient is affected by a stroke differently and has needs and requirements that are unique to their own life. The type of language impairment from a stroke depends on which part of the brain has been affected by the stroke.
The most common impairments include the three below:
- Speech motor skills (apraxia, dysarthria)
- Language – the ability to understand or produce language (aphasia)
- Thinking and memory
At times, a combination of two, or even all three of these problems, can be evident. We can further breakdown and understand how a stroke can affect these three primary areas of communication in the following way:
- Speech Motor Skills.
- Apraxia of speech.
- When someone is suffering from Apraxia of Speech, they often report knowing what they want to say, but have trouble getting the words out entirely.
- Or, they might experience a challenge in making or maintaining all the sounds and syllables in those words.
- Sometimes a different word comes than what was intended. This can happen when the speaking skills of word retrieval and word finding are impaired.
- If a patient has experienced paralysis or paresis in the face, this can result in a weakness in the facial muscles. This can result in speech often coming out slurry, and unclear.
- Apraxia of speech.
- Those who have aphasia may have trouble organizing thoughts into sentences. Producing a clear and understandable narrative also becomes more challenging. In these cases, patients often require reminders to slow down, and take their time to organize their thoughts. See more on Aphasia below.
- A stroke usually affects short-term memory more often than long-term. Patients are able to recall events that took place many years ago but forget more recent events.
- In this case, it’s not a specific memory of an event that is impacted, but, rather, patients may forget how to problem-solve, organize their environments, or recall important information within their routines.
- Short-term memory loss.
A stroke usually affects short-term memory more often than long-term. Patients are able to recall events that took place many years ago but forget more recent events.
- Working memory.
In this case, it’s not a specific memory of an event that is impacted, but, rather, patients may forget how to problem-solve, organize their environments, or recall important information within their routines.
Damage to the brain due to a stroke is not limited to these areas, but these are common impairments that speech language pathologists treat.
Aphasia after a Stroke may Require Specialized Therapy
Stroke survivors often experience Aphasia, which affects a range of skills that are closely related to communication.
As mentioned above, Aphasia is what results when the language component of the brain is affected by the stroke. When someone is diagnosed with Aphasia, their communication, not intelligence, is impacted.
It is very important to remember that even though patients experience Aphasias, their condition does not affect their cognition or intelligence. Patients often report that they have the words in their mind and they know what they want to say but they can’t get the words out the way they used to before the stroke.
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Something that many people are surprised by is that it’s not only speech that can be impacted by a stroke, but all types of language-based communication, including reading, listening, or speaking, or any combination. The ability to read and write may, or may not, be affected.
Vocabulary and the meaning of concepts is usually not affected. Aphasia impacts the ability to get specific words out in a clear and concise manner.
After a stroke, the patient’s abilities usually evolve and change rapidly, which may feel exciting but unpredictable. Every step of the way within the treatment process brings great improvements and challenges. In the speech and language therapy process, patience works hand in hand with determination and understanding.
“It’s not only speech that can be impacted by a stroke, but all types of language-based communication, including reading, listening, or speaking.”
Better Speech therapists can provide special therapy specifically tailored to patients experiencing Aphasia after a stroke, to help them be able to express their thoughts and communicate with their loved ones.
Here’s a testimonial from one of our clients:
“[My speech therapist’s] expertise was obvious from the first session, but just as important as her ability to coach me through increasingly difficult exercises was her kindness and sense of humor. She was always patient and pleasant, and has helped me more than I thought possible. Great experience.”
Helping Your Loved One at Home after a Stroke
The home environment, and every day routines, can offer an amplitude of opportunities to facilitate speech, language, and memory recovery.
As caregivers, we may have a difficult time understanding what a person who has survived a stroke is feeling and experiencing. Fortunately, many stroke survivors have provided invaluable feedback over the years that can aid therapists and caregivers within the therapy process.
Here are some of those suggestions about interacting after a stroke:
- Look at the person directly when talking to them.
- Speak in a normal tone, slowly, and clearly.
- Try communicating by writing. Have a portable white board for you both to use, if they are able to write.
- Tell the person you understand that they might be frustrated.
- Make sure to minimize 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.
- Remember that aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence, so be careful that you are speaking with respect.
As speech therapists, we try to encourage adults who have suffered from a stroke to engage in speech, language, and memory-based activities at home with their caregivers with speech therapy for adults After all, no matter how many hours of speech and language therapy someone attends, it’s never as much time as they spend at home with their loved ones.
“Some clients who can’t speak after a stroke can still belt out their favorite song because singing abilities are located in a different part of the brain than language.”
Here are some of the home activities that we like to recommend for our clients:
- Play a favorite card game, or board game – Playing a game with strategy stimulates important cognitive processes. Review the names or what is written on the cards. Also review the rules, steps, and problem-solving strategies involved in the game.
- Play music and sing songs – Surprisingly, some clients who can’t speak after a stroke can still belt out their favorite song. These people can end up singing with more ease, since the singing abilities are located in a different part of the brain than language. Find out what their favorite music is, and sing along. You can even try “Happy Birthday.” Play games, such as guessing the title of a song that is on the radio, or even your own version of “Name That Tune,” if possible.
- 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 a certain 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, so be mindful.
- Go through documents and memorabilia – Take a look at the important objects and paperwork from the person’s life. Discuss items that carry great significance such as trophies, framed pictures, other awards, souvenirs, and nicknacks from vacations. Review important documents such as bills, letters, and notes.
- Recall the sequences to events – Review the steps to daily and other common routines. Also go over events that have happened a few days or weeks prior. Recall the steps and ingredients to favorite recipes and make them together!
- Discuss favorite shows – Name the title of favorite shows and discuss them. Review the names of characters, the plot of the show, and the patient’s opinions.
- Write thoughts down on white board or journal – Patients who retain their ability to write, benefit greatly from journal writing, or having a mobile white board. They can quickly tell their caregivers their thoughts and needs, which reduces miscommunication and frustration.
- Read out loud – Practice reading your favorite books and journals out loud to further practice word pronunciation, organizational skills, and the rhythmic patterns of speech.
Create Simple Goals and Milestones, then Celebrate Achievements
In our online sessions of speech therapy for adults, we look to establish functional and reasonable goals that suit the client’s needs and values. We organize our goals in terms of priority and gradually expand on the activities as the patient’s skills start to return and recover. We look at what areas will need to be modified temporarily or long-term.
The recovery process is truly a collaborative endeavor that circles around your loved one, involving different therapies, specialists, medical practitioners, friends, and familial caregivers. As speech-language pathologists, we want to provide the path back to communication, and the human interaction that is so important for recovery via online sessions of speech therapy for adults.
For more information on how we might be of help, book a free consultation below!
Written by Svetlana Atenzon, MA CCC-SLP