After her stroke, your mom struggles to communicate. Her doctors all recommend she start working with a speech therapist as soon as possible. What is speech therapy and how do you get her started with a therapist?
What Is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is a medical practice focused on assisting with speech impediments, language disorders, voice disorders, difficulties swallowing, and brain injuries. A speech therapist assesses the issues with communication, works on a plan to help strengthen speech and communication skills, and teaches the exercises and skills needed to help change how well someone communicates.
Speech therapists help with:
- Post-stroke recovery
- Alzheimer’s communication and swallowing skills
- Communication after hearing loss
- Weakening larynx muscle from age
- Age-related musculature changes that make it harder to swallow
What happens during speech therapy? Typically, a session with a therapist takes up to an hour. It starts with an introductory meeting where the therapist goes over your mom’s health or speech issues. After this assessment of your mom’s skills, her therapist comes up with a plan of exercises and therapeutic measures to start helping her with communicating or swallowing.
How Does Speech Therapy Help After a Stroke?
Since your mom’s stroke, you’ve helped her make several changes in her home, but she also needs to work with therapists. Her doctor said speech therapy is going to help a lot. What do speech therapists do to help?
After a stroke, three things impact speech:
- Aphasia: During a stroke, the parts of the brain that manage speech may be damaged. That damage makes it hard to talk as you can’t think of the right words and phrases, therefore making it hard for people to understand you. It also impacts how well you understand what people are saying to you.
- Dysarthria: Muscle control is lost after the stroke because of the damage. Muscle control has to be gained again, and until the muscle control is restored, speech seems impossible.
- Dyspraxia: Typically, this condition starts in childhood, but it’s common after a stroke. It involves a lack of coordination and movements caused by issues within the brain.
A speech therapist assesses each of these, looks at where the stroke damaged the brain, and creates a plan of exercises and methods that can help restore communication. Your mom may never regain full speech, but being able to tell you how she feels or what she needs is important.
How Do You Get Started?
Speech therapy is essential after a stroke, but it also helps with the progression of Alzheimer’s stutters and other speech impediments, or following a traumatic brain injury that impacts speech and swallowing. Talk to your mom’s medical team and learn more about her post-stroke recovery. Once you have an idea of what help she needs, arrange speech therapy services.