Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, responsible for roughly one out of every 19 deaths in the nation. On average, one person dies from a stroke every four minutes in the United States. For those that survive a stroke, the results can be devastating: about 4 million Americans who have survived a stroke are living with disabilities, and 15% to 30% are permanently disabled. Issues with communication are some of the most common disabilities associated with stroke. For this reason, speech-language pathologists are often on the front lines of stroke rehabilitation. How can a speech therapist help a stroke victim regain their communication skills?
- Speech Therapy: Many people who have suffered a stroke are left with either apraxia or dysarthria, two conditions that affect speech production. Apraxia is a motor-planning disorder, disrupting the brain’s ability to communicate with the muscles necessary for speech. Dysarthria leaves an individual with weakened or paralyzed muscles in the face, mouth, or respiratory system. In both cases, a range of speech deficits occur, ranging from difficulty pronouncing some words, to completely unintelligible speech. A speech-language pathologist will help an individual with either of these disorders to improve their intelligibility, improving problem sounds, and compensating for those they are unable to produce.
- Language Therapy: One of the most common disabilities arising from a stroke is aphasia or difficulty producing language. Aphasia differs from apraxia and dysarthria in that it is not speech sounds that are affected, but rather language itself. Aphasia can be expressive (affecting the ability to formulate and produce words) or receptive (making it difficult to understand language), and can affect speaking, listening, reading, or writing. In language therapy, a speech-language pathologist will help a person with aphasia target their specific areas of weakness, and develop strategies to strengthen and compensate for these issues. In severe cases, an alternative means of communication may be considered, such as a speech-producing computer.
Next week we’ll continue our series on strokes and communication, discussing how strokes can affect memory and thought and how a speech-language pathologist can help.
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212)308-7725 or visit our website at www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!