Communication abilities are often inhibited following a stroke, for either a short-term or long-term period. The reasons behind the disability may vary, making customized speech-language therapy essential.
Speech-language therapy may be helpful if residents display the following difficulties:
- Swallowing, including coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- Understanding language (receptive aphasia)
- Speaking, including speaking any words or saying the correct word (expressive aphasia)
- Forming words and speech sounds due to weak muscles in your mouth (dysarthria)
- Moving the muscles needed for speech in the correct order and sequence (dyspraxia)
- Reading (dyslexia) or writing (dysgraphia)
Speech-language therapy helps residents with communication difficulties overcome and/or adapt to a range of communication problems. The therapist’s aim will be to work with the resident, his or her family, and care providers. Therapy can minimize the impact of a resident’s difficulties and improve his or her overall well-being.
Speech-Language Therapy Assessments
Initially, the speech and language therapist will make an informal assessment of a resident’s general ability to communicate. This will be followed by a formal assessment to detect problems that are not clear from just speaking with the resident.
These assessments establish a baseline for measuring change and assist the therapist in designing an individualized program of therapy.
It is also important that an assessment measures factors unrelated to the stroke that can affect a resident’s communication. A stroke may also cause new problems, including loss of vision or memory, making communication more difficult.
Speech-Language Therapy: Communication Help
Therapies will generally target the specific area(s) of communication residents find difficult. This can include trouble finding the right words to say, weak muscles in the mouth, and difficulty positioning the lips, tongue, and jaw when speaking.
Finding alternative ways of communicating is a vital part of speech-language therapy. These may include:
- Communication charts
- A letter board
For some residents, an electronic communication aid may be helpful. A speech and language therapist can suggest the best solutions.
Speech and language therapists can also teach methods of nonverbal communication. They can advise the resident’s family members on how to adapt communication to make it easier to understand.
Speech-Language Therapy: Reading and Writing Help
Commonly, residents who have problems with speech will also have problems with writing, spelling, and reading, known as acquired dyslexia. The areas of the brain that are important for these tasks are quite close together.
Research continues into acquired dyslexia, and speech-language therapy will include the best treatments for improving the ability to read after a stroke.
Therapy which helps with speech may also help with reading and writing. This is because all ways of communicating use similar abilities.
At Apex Rehab, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive speech-language therapy services to help SNF residents improve their quality of life. To learn how our unique services can benefit your SNF, call (412) 963-9698 or complete this quick form.