Communication After Stroke: the Common Speech Disorders

A stroke can have disastrous consequences, especially with how you communicate. A stroke can affect the blood circulation in the brain and disrupt the areas responsible for speech. This sudden inability to communicate can leave you extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed.

JOGO Health’s speech therapy hospital in Chennai offers treatment for various communication impediments post-stroke. Our article explores the various speech impairments, the symptoms, treatments, and the importance of prompt diagnosis.

Let’s explore the details.

What Happens During a Stroke & How It Affects Your Speech Ability?

A stroke can occur for several reasons. An Ischemic stroke occurs due to a blockage in the brain, and a Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Either way, a stroke can have mild, severe, or fatal impacts on your body. The direct result is the death of brain cells, affecting functions controlled by these cells, including speech and language.

Impact on Speech Areas of the Brain

The brain's areas that control speech and language are located in the left hemisphere. These areas include:

  • Broca’s area- Responsible for speech production
  • Wernicke’s area- Responsible for language comprehension

Speech disorders can occur if any of these areas are affected by stroke. For instance, any damage to Broca’s area can lead to Broca’s aphasia, which impedes sentence completion. On the other hand, a damaged Wernicke’s area causes Wernicke’s aphasia- a speech impediment where the person speaks in long, nonsensical sentences using nonexistent words.

Immediate & Long-Term Effects of Stroke on Speech Abilities

Right after a stroke, you may face significant disruptions in communication, from slurred speech to complete speech loss. Long-term effects vary. Some regain full speech functionality, while others face ongoing challenges. Recovery and rehabilitation can be extensive; necessitating customised speech therapy focused on specific impairment areas.

This foundational knowledge aids in identifying and managing potential speech disorders after a stroke, guiding effective recovery strategies.

Common Speech Disorders After Stroke

Post-stroke, you or your loved one may encounter various speech disorders significantly affecting daily life and emotional well-being. Comprehending these disorders is crucial for effective management and recovery.

This section explores three prevalent speech disorders post-stroke:

1. Aphasia

Commonly results from damage to the brain's left side, impacting language abilities. This disorder varies in manifestation, primarily affecting skills like speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. Notably, aphasia does not influence intelligence.

Aphasia can appear in different forms, each with unique features:

1. Non Fluent Aphasia (Broca’s Aphasia)

People with this form may produce brief, halted speech. They often struggle with complete sentences and may omit short words, though their comprehension might remain relatively intact.

2. Fluent Aphasia (Wernicke’s Aphasia)

Unlike Broca’s, individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia might speak in lengthy, complete sentences that lack meaning, including unnecessary or made-up words.

3. Global Aphasia

This severe form involves major impairments in both speaking and understanding. Those with global aphasia lose almost all language functions.

4. Anomic Aphasia

Individuals with this type can speak fluently in grammatically correct sentences but often struggle to find the right words for objects, people, or events.

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Intelligence and Aphasia

It is essential to remember that aphasia does not impact a person's intelligence. Those with this disorder maintain their cognitive capabilities; they merely face difficulties accessing the words and grammar needed to express their thoughts or understand others. This distinction is crucial for both caregivers and society to grasp, ensuring that individuals with aphasia receive the respect and patience they deserve.

2. Acquired Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia of speech arises from challenges coordinating the muscle movements needed to form words. Despite knowing what they wish to say, individuals with apraxia struggle to initiate and sequence the sounds that comprise speech. This issue stems from muscle weakness and the brain's disrupted ability to send the correct signals for proper muscle movement in speech.

3. Dysarthria

Dysarthria involves a weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlled by the nervous system, resulting in slow or slurred speech that is hard to comprehend.

Dysarthria can vary depending on which part of your nervous system is affected. Each type presents specific symptoms:

  • Flaccid Dysarthria results from damage to the motor neurons in the brainstem. It manifests as a weak, breathy voice and floppy mouth muscles that impact speech volume and breath control.
  • Spastic Dysarthria occurs due to damaged upper motor neurons causing slow and strained speech. Muscle stiffness and spasms are common, impacting your speech clarity.
  • Ataxic Dysarthria is caused by damage to the cerebellum, this type disrupts the rhythm and force of speech. Your speech might sound choppy or slurred, resembling intoxication.
  • Hypokinetic Dysarthria is caused by neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. The person may speak in a muted, monotone voice or in a rapid, incomprehensible speech.
  • Hyperkinetic Dysarthria involves involuntary movements like tremors or tics and unpredictable changes in voice pitch and volume.

Recovering from a stroke is a challenging journey, especially when it affects your ability to communicate. Speech therapy offers various techniques tailored to address specific speech disorders, which can significantly enhance your recovery process and improve your quality of life.

Effective Therapies for Stroke-Related Speech Disorders

1. Articulation Therapy

The primary objective of this technique is to improve pronunciation and clarity of speech in persons with Apraxia and Dysarthria.

2. Language Intervention Activities

These activities enhance the person’s ability to comprehend communication and expression of ideas. Language experts recommend Language Intervention Activities for those with Aphasia who have lost the ability to understand or express themselves.

3. Cognitive-Communication Therapies

Improves cognitive abilities that are essential for communication, including memory, attention, and problem-solving.

4. Technology-Aided Support

Experts rely on apps, smart devices, and software to facilitate severe speech impairments that hinder one’s ability to speak and express themselves.

Along with these speech therapy techniques, the family’s encouragement, support, and participation are crucial in creating a supportive environment for recovering from stroke and its communication impediments.

Simple Tips For Family & Caregivers in Supporting Speech Recovery

Recovering from a stroke is a journey that involves the whole family. To make a meaningful difference in the affected person’s life, family members and caregivers should:

  • Encourage the person’s small victories, whether it is speech or physical movements.
  • Engage with the speech-language pathologist to understand the therapy process. Learn exercises that can be practised at home to ensure consistent progress.
  • Use clear, simple sentences and maintain eye contact. Be patient and give them ample time to understand and respond.
  • Demonstrate that you value communicating with them, no matter how long they take to express themselves.
  • Prioritise direct interactions by minimising background noise and limiting distractions wherever possible.

As you adapt to life post-stroke, incorporating these technologies into your daily routine can significantly enhance your communication ability. Regular interaction through AAC devices and traditional therapy can lead to gradual improvements in speech clarity and communication skills. This integration supports your recovery journey and empowers you to maintain connections with your community and loved ones.

Embracing traditional methods and innovative technologies will equip you with the tools to navigate these challenges effectively.

Wrapping Up

Helping a loved one facing speech disorders after a stroke requires immense patience, perseverance, and suitable therapies.

JOGO’s digital therapeutics clinic in Chennai offers specialised speech therapy services for stroke-related speech disorders. If you recognise symptoms or need guidance in speech therapy options, do not hesitate to book an appointment with JOGO. Our cutting-edge treatments and expert care can significantly improve communication abilities, positively impacting the quality of life and speeding up recovery.

1/1,11th Cross st., Shastri Nagar, Adyar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600020.

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