Recovery After Stroke: Regaining the Gift of Speech

Stroke Recovery: Speech Therapy

According to the American Stroke Association®, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. After a stroke, it is very common to have communication problems. For example, a stroke can affect your ability to find the right words or to understand what others are saying, reading and/or writing.

More specifically, the Mayo Clinic informs us that a stroke that causes brain damage to the left side of the brain may cause speech and language disorders. The medical term to describe some of the communication problems that occur as a result of a stroke is "aphasia."

“Fortunately, there is good news for those who are struggling with their speech after suffering a stroke,” says, Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. “Experienced, highly specialized speech therapists such as those in our short-term rehabilitation center have helped many individuals and their loved ones regain lost abilities in speaking, listening, writing or comprehension.

“After initial treatment for stroke in the hospital setting, short-term rehabilitation centers have become the treatment of choice for stroke due to their more comfortable, home-like environment and the significantly lower expense.”

The Vital Role of Speech Therapy After Stroke

Stroke care experts at the Mayo Clinic® reinforce the vital importance of working with a credentialed speech therapist to help restore the ability to speak. The goal of speech and language therapy for aphasia is to improve communication by restoring as much language as possible, teaching how to compensate for lost language skills, and learning other methods of communicating.

In their highly specialized field, speech therapists use a variety of techniques to improve communication. After an initial evaluation, a speech rehabilitation plan is created that may include working one-on-one with a speech-language pathologist and participating in groups with others who have aphasia. Speech therapy specialists say group settings can be particularly helpful, because they offer a low-stress environment where people can practice communication skills, such as starting a conversation, speaking in turn and clarifying misunderstandings.

Why Intensive Short-Term Speech Rehabilitation Matters

The article, “Intense Therapy Improves Speech After Stroke” advises that short but intensive rounds of speech therapy may be better for restoring language skills lost to a stroke than traditional methods.

In a study, researchers found that stroke survivors who had difficulty speaking or understanding speech showed significant improvement in language and communication skills after a short term of intensive speech therapy. They also found that the use of family and friends in the rehabilitation training process provided an additional valuable element.

Post-Stroke Speech Therapy Techniques

The National Stroke Association® informs us that there are a variety of specific speech therapy exercises and techniques. Other types of therapy have also proven effective for some stroke survivors, including:

  • Melodic intonation therapy allows stroke survivors to sing words they cannot speak
  • Visual speech perception therapy focuses on associating pictures with words.
  • Constraint-induced language therapy involves creating a scenario in which spoken verbal communication is the only available option, and other types of communication, such as visual cues from body language, are not possible
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Some prescription medications can aid in the recovery of aphasia

They say practice at home can further enhance the results of professional speech therapy. Some activities to support aphasia recovery after a return home include:

  • Playing word-based games, such as board games, cards and crossword puzzles
  • Cooking a new recipe and reading the ingredients
  • Practicing writing a shopping list or greeting cards to loved ones
  • Reading aloud or singing
  • Going out to eat, ordering off a menu and calculating the tip

Susan adds, “It is important for individuals and their families to understand that recovering lost language skills can be a slow process. However, with patience, persistence and professional speech therapy, many people who have had a stroke are able to regain much, if not all of their lost speaking ability.”

Speech therapy experts remind us that it is highly important to seek professional treatment for aphasia because communication barriers resulting from a stroke can lead to embarrassment, relationship problems and, in some cases, depression.

Regain Your Speech with the Stroke Rehabilitation Experts at Saunders House 

Our RenewAll Short-Term & Medically Complex Care program has been developed specifically to support successful recoveries and allow for safe returns to health, home and the lifestyle for those recovering from a stroke and other medical conditions. 

Led by a medical director and an interdisciplinary team of licensed rehabilitation professionals, including speech therapists, our RenewAll program balances medical management, physical rehabilitation and individualized care to treat a variety of problems and needs -- from stroke and cardiopulmonary disease to joint replacement and post-hospital recovery.

To assure a smooth transition to home, our interdisciplinary care team develops highly individualized stroke recovery plans for each person. These plans are then delivered on a one-on-one basis and focus on achieving measurable results.

For more information on stroke rehabilitation and other senior care topics, we invite you to read our recurring blog articles and tips.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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