Tips To Improve Speech After A Stroke
Tips To Improve Speech After A Stroke
Improve Speech After A Stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted, which deprives the brain tissue of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation can lead to death of cells in just a few minutes, leading to loss of muscle functioning and/or speech depending on the area that is controlled by the cells.
According to an Indian article published in 2017, the incidence of stroke in Indian population ranged from 105 to 152/100,000 persons per year.
Quite often we see language and speech disorders arising from a stroke. The condition related to muscle weakness is termed as Dysarthria, Whereas, the language disorder is known as Aphasia. Aphasia manifests itself in different ways- understanding instruction/words, speech output, or sometimes both. Irrespective, of the type of aphasia or dysarthria, communication and every day functioning of a stroke-affected individual is impacted to a considerable extent. Hence, providing speech therapy becomes of utmost importance to regain the brain’s function. We list out a few tips to improve speech post a stroke in dysarthria and aphasia,
The recovery from aphasia and/or dysarthria could take long. It is vital to maintain patience and work towards the set objective. Never settle for ‘plateau’. The progress rate may/or may not slow down after the first few months. It does not implicate ‘dead end’. Recovery will stop, when practice stops. Hence, consistency should be sustained.
- Setting realistic targets for the patient.
This is imperative after stroke. It not only helps in creating an idea and momentum to achieve the goal, but is also less burdensome on the individual.
- Begin with simple goals, eventually progress to complex goals.
For instance, a person may be unable to produce simple sounds like /b/, /t/; in such instances targeting whole meaningful words maybe not yield results. Hence, target basic sound production and then proceed to word level.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
Very often, after a stroke, the brain’s processing speed reduces significantly. Hence, it becomes important to be intelligible and clear to the person. This also reduces the frustration in individuals arising due to the inability to comprehend. Improve Speech After A Stroke
- Use various items during communication.
Use a picture of a spoon while giving spoon to the person. Talk about the spoon. Gesture the way a spoon is used.
Use written words to elicit reading. Match the written word, with the object.
Create unique gestures for an action word used by the client alone. Example ‘thumbs up towards the mouth gestures drinking’; ‘palms together near the ear indicates sleepy, etc.
Using pictures of family members while talking about them can facilitate better understanding.
Using various modalities while communicating benefits the person in rewiring brain connections.
- Create a communication book/board.
This book could have basic words/pictures for the individual to communicate. Example, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘give me’, ‘food’, ‘water’, ‘toilet’ and so on. This makes it easy for the talker and listener to communicate effectively, thereby reducing frustration from the aphasic individual.
- RPC approach (as I would like to abbreviate) (Repetition, Practice, Consistency).
Repetition of target words/sounds/instruction helps in renewing process of the brain, which is in other words healing the brain. Be it muscle strengthening or brain strengthening, repetition and practice is the way to achieve it.
Maintaining consistency of practice is important as well. Set a particular time in the day when intensive practice can be done, and follow it diligently.
- Reward and Feedback.
Reward for every correct sound or word produced. Say ‘good try’; ‘that was impressive’, when the individual identifies the right object or follows a command. Small rewards at the right time, goes a long way in motivating the person.
Giving honest feedback about the performance, enables the individual to understand his potential. If the target word/sound produced is incorrect, give feedback saying ‘that was close, let’s try again’; ‘you can do it better if you try again’ etc.
- Giving time to talk.
Do not complete the words or sentences for them all the time. This seizes the opportunity for them to practice and produce words on their own.
- Additional strengths – Writing, Music, Art.
Many individuals with aphasia may have inclination towards one or more art forms. This strength can be used to bring out language in them. Many people with aphasia have musically tuned right hemisphere. This musical leaning can facilitate language learning. It is unknown what works best for the person, until everything is tried. Music may help one individual, and may not be beneficial for another. Another individual may benefit from writing or drawing.
Another vital aspect, though mentioned at the end, is equally necessary. Acceptance and Attitude.
Acceptance is the first step, to achieve any objective. Only if the condition is accepted, working towards the goal, appropriately, becomes easier; as well as for setting realistic goals. Which in turn helps, in better execution and progress.
Attitude to move ahead, attitude to motivate, attitude to ‘never-give-up’ are all equally essential for the growth of the person.
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