Strokes are caused either by a blockage of the blood vessels in the brain or by bleeding in or around the brain, and they can happen to anyone of any age at any time. Patients have the best shot at recovering from the effects of a stroke when they are evaluated quickly and thoroughly by a team of medical professionals, including a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). A stroke can cause cognitive communication and swallowing deficits, and an SLP will diagnose and treat these specific conditions.
Speech Therapy After Stroke
An SLP creates a tailored treatment plan for each patient that focuses on improving the skills that the stroke has diminished. The brain is organized such that an injury to one side of the brain affects the opposite side of the body. Depending on what areas are affected, an SLP will deploy certain therapies and strategies. The SLP’s goal is to:
- Improve the patient’s ability to understand and/or produce language;
- Improve speech production if there is difficulty due to weakness or motor planning;
- Determine whether there is a need for an alternative/augmentative device to supplement a patient’s verbal communication;
- Increase awareness of deficits in order to help self-monitoring in the hospital, home and community;
- Implement compensatory strategies or modify the patients work/school environment to meet their needs;
- Make recommendations that involve positioning issues, feeding techniques, specific therapeutic techniques and diet consistency changes; and,
- Educate the patient, their family members or caregivers about the therapy path forward.
The recovery and rehabilitation process is different for each patient. An SLP will work with a team of other health care professionals to help a patient transition back into the community and to reclaim the skills to live as independently as possible. Everyone’s common goal should be restoring a patient’s quality of life.
Remember, there is life after stroke, and early therapy increases the chance that life will be as fulfilling as possible.
National Stroke Association – www.stroke.org
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) – www.asha.org
National Institute of Health – www.stroke.nih.gov