Speech-recovery after a stroke
David BenAviv, MD, is the medical director of Rehabilitation Services at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center. His office can be reached at 1-866-974-CORE.
Question: My husband had a stroke and was referred to a speech-language pathologist. How will this help?
Answer: After having a stroke, an individual’s language skills may become impaired, making it difficult to understand what other people are saying or difficult to formulate sentences without mixing up the words.
Speech-language pathologists can help people find those lost words, organize thoughts into coherent sentences, and understand the language they hear.
Sometimes after having a stroke, words may not get mixed up, but speech may become slurred. This may be due to weakness in the muscles of the face and mouth. Patients will learn exercises to train specific muscles as well as techniques to improve articulation.
Swallowing can also be a problem for stroke patients or those with other kinds of neurological disease or illnesses. A speech-language pathologist can suggest diet modifications to make swallowing safer and easier. Or they can provide swallowing safety tips, and teach exercises to improve strength of the swallow muscles. Sometimes an speech-language pathologist will perform a video X-ray of a patient’s swallow to ensure that food and liquids are not entering the airway.
Many people may be hospitalized after suffering a stroke, brain injury or other illness. A speech-language pathologist assists with transitioning to the home environment as safely as possible, and with as few restrictions as possible. Not everyone may be able to return home and not everyone may completely re-gain their functional skills they had prior to their hospitalization.