Erica Tilley, Speech Pathologist
Communication problems after a stroke
Communication difficulties are common after a stroke. One third of stroke survivors have difficulty with their talking, understanding, reading and/or writing.
Types of communication difficulties
After a stroke, people can be affected by one or more of the following problems:
Aphasia is difficulty with language.
You may have trouble finding the right words when talking. You might have difficulty understanding what other people are saying. Aphasia can also affect the ability to read, write, use gestures, draw pictures, use numbers or do maths.
Dysarthria is difficulty with speaking clearly.
You may have trouble with weakness or controlling the muscles in your face, mouth, throat and lungs. This can make your speech slurred, slow or quiet. It might be hard for other people to understand what you are saying.
Apraxia of speech is difficulty with controlling your muscles when you are trying to say something.
It is related to problems selecting the right movements to make speech. You may have trouble starting to talk. Inconsistent errors are also very common. This is where you can say the word correctly some of the time but not others.
Cognitive-communication disorder is also very common after a stroke. This is where changes to your thinking, concentration, memory and problem solving affects the way you communicate with other people.
You may have difficulty with:
- Staying on topic
- Taking turns in conversation
- Understanding jokes
- Understanding metaphors and sarcasm
- Saying inappropriate comments
- Remembering information
- Following directions
- Concentrating with background noise
Impact of communication problems
The impact of communication difficulties after a stroke are profound. They include:
- Loss of conversational quality
- Changes to self-identity
- Loss of friendship
- Exclusion from social situations
- Emotional distress
Typically, most recovery takes place in the months following a stroke. However, many people continue to show improvement for years afterwards.
Recovery can be dependent on a range of factors including:
- severity and location of the brain damage
- age of the person
- emotional and psychological wellbeing
- having the right tools and supports
- having the confidence to ‘have a go’ and use what you have to communicate
How can a speech pathologist help?
A speech pathologist can help assess your communication difficulties, and work with you on goals that are important to you. If you have access to internet, you can do your therapy online with a phone, tablet, laptop or computer. At Umbo, a speech pathologist can work with you to:
- troubleshoot difficulties
- use strategies to facilitate successful communication
- train conversation partners and friends
- find communication opportunities
- find support groups
- set up a communication aid or device
- manage communication problems outside of the home environment
Even if it has been many years since your stroke, a Speech Pathologist may still be able to assist. Research has found that there is a significant and continuing need for longer-term support experienced by stroke survivors with communication difficulties.
At Umbo we have Speech Pathologists who can provide therapy online, via videolink, for people who have suffered a stroke. Book a free consultation to talk with one of our therapists about your needs.