Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When speech is a problem after a stroke?

MRI scan of a healthy brain: Blockage of blood vessels appear as "bright spots" on certain types of MRI scans.

Photograph: Science Photo Library


MEN'S HEALTH MATTERS: There are a number of ways communication can be improved

Q My father has just had a stroke and is having difficulty talking to us and it appears he doesn’t understand what we say. This is very distressing both for my dad and our family and I wonder what can be done about it.

A It sounds like your father has aphasia which is a difficulty with language following a stroke. As you rightly say this can be very distressing and can often be very frustrating for a patient. Aphasia can affect expression (difficulty finding words and formulating sentences), understanding what you say (particularly longer sentences and complex questions), and sometimes reading and writing.

The speech and language therapist (SLT) in his hospital will assess his language skills, help you to find ways to communicate more easily, and will work through a communication treatment programme which will be aimed at improving his communication skills. The following is a list of tips you can employ to help communicate with him:

He may also have a speech problem: dysarthria, where his speech may sound slurred due to muscle weakness, or dyspraxia, where he may use the wrong sounds when speaking due to muscle inco-ordination.

The speech and language therapist will assess his speech and provide appropriate treatment. If