Post-Stroke Therapy: Combatting Speech And Language Difficulties

In the United States and Canada, more than one million people suffer from a stroke every year, occurring most often over the age of 65, and an adult person’s chances of an oncoming stroke doubles each decade after hitting middle age. Most debilitating of all is that sufferers rarely come out of a stroke without it affecting some aspect of their long-term health, cognition, mobility, or speech.

If you’ve survived a stroke, it’s important to know that there are options for you. While the effects may not be reversible, rehabilitation – also recognized as post-stroke therapy, can help survivors live out the remainder of their lives to the fullest.

If you’re looking for private speech therapy Toronto has a number of top-tier clinics who cater to the specific needs of clients and help families cope. At a speech pathology clinic (one like Simone Friedman SLS in Toronto, for example), trained Speech-Language Pathologists specialize in helping clients with Aphasia (loss of ability to comprehend language as a result of traumatic brain injury), which affects speaking, listening, writing and reading abilities. We also work with those experiencing oral motor difficulties including Dysarthria (where the muscles used to produce speech have become impaired), Apraxia(where the commands from the brain become confused or unrecognized so that speech signals cannot come through), or Dysphagia (characterized by a difficulty in swallowing). Finally, their trained pathologists, psychologists and clinicians are also able to help with social-communication difficulties and cognitive difficulties affecting a person’s memory and ability to process information entering the brain.

While many sufferers will experience multiple post stroke symptoms, it is important in rehabilitation to develop personalized treatment programs that will tackle a person’s primary condition in relation to other symptoms they are experiencing. For example, it is vital to address Aphasia through one on one intervention, improving an individual’s ability to speak, read and write words, sentences and paragraphs. It is also imperative to introduce group intervention to improve an individual’s social-communication, and provide strategies to help with retaining memories, and re-developing attention span. If the client also suffers from Dysarthria, it is paramount to make them more cognisant of slowing their rate of speech down, improving breath support, strengthening their muscles and improving the movement of those muscles, as well as articulation.

Finally, helping a person who has suffered from stroke inherently involves teaching the people closest to them how best to communicate – alleviating the sufferer’s stress, re-building their trust and confidence in themselves and in the remainder of their life through an active, compassionate and understanding support system.

While working with clients, family members should reduce distractions and background noise when speaking to them, pay special attention to their family member when they are speaking, watch the person as they talk, not shy away from asking their family member to repeat themselves if there is a difficulty in understanding, repeat messages their family member has expressed back to them to ensure their meaning was received, and encourage written communication as a fallback.

Through specialized treatment — helping to improve the quality of survivors’ day to day interactions and their lives as a whole — you loved one can ease themselves back into regular life; all it takes is a little help along the way.