Communicating With Your Loved One After A Stroke

A stroke can impact your ability to communicate in a variety of ways. Effective speech therapy can help to restore post-stroke communication deficits, and your loved ones can also learn tips and strategies for more effective two-way communications. Stroke survivors may experience the following communication difficulties:

  • Aphasia – impaired comprehension of words’ meaning, which may look like word-finding issues or understanding written or verbal communications
  • Apraxia – impaired ability to produce speech in the absence of paralysis of associated muscles
  • Dysarthria – difficulty controlling the muscles that produce speech, resulting in speech that is slurred, slow or excessively quiet.

How Speech Therapy Can Address Communication Challenges

Speech therapy can be a valuable component of a stroke rehabilitation regimen for survivors who are struggling with speech changes as a result of their stroke. Some speech therapists specialize in treating stroke survivors, and they may provide education on exercises and techniques to reverse speech deficits, such as:

  • Recommending exercises and practices that recover language functioning, including speech, reading and writing
  • Engaging patients in conversations
  • Identifying prompts to help patients remember words
  • Working with caregivers to teach strategies that they can use to enhance communication with the stroke survivor.

Speech therapy can take place in different settings, such as a skilled nursing facility, the patient’s home or even virtually for a stroke survivor who has difficulty getting to an outpatient clinic. Be sure to practice these exercises regularly on your own for the best treatment results.

Practical Strategies for Improved Communication

Although speech therapy can be very effective in improving stroke-related communication disorders, it may take some time to achieve this progress. Furthermore,some deficits may remain even after the patient has finished speech therapy. It can be helpful to know other strategies that can also help with effective communication.

  • Face each other when you are speaking
  • Ask your conversation partner to speak clearly and use short sentences
  • Minimize distractions
  • Incorporate non-verbal forms of communication like facial expressions and hand gestures
  • Give the other person adequate time to respond
  • Take breaks as needed

Speech therapy can help you to recover most, if not all, of the communication functioning that is affected by stroke’s damage to the brain. You can also master different communication strategies to fill any gaps. Discuss this aspect of your care with your speech therapist.