10 Things Your Speech Therapist Wants You to Know About Stroke Recovery
Speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists (SLPs), do much more than help stroke patients speak better. These professionals also help you read, write, swallow, and understand language. Here, leading speech therapists share their insights on stroke recovery.
Support for the Road to Recovery https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F98%2F64%2F5e477535407a9e350b527160387e%2Fimage-doctor-talking-with-patient.jpg
Speech therapy should help you improve, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll have 100% recovery, says Maria Sullivan, CCC-SLP. How well you recover depends on many factors and is difficult to predict, adds Kimberly Flanagan, MS CCC-SLP. “Often, patients are left with lasting changes from the stroke even after they are discharged,” Flanagan says. “There are some people who do make a full recovery.”
1. “You might not get 100% better.” https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/722x483%2B2%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F62%2F7e%2Fabebe609496093356fa2c0507674%2Fimage-doctor-talking-with-patient-182657690.jpg
“A strong support system is beneficial for a patient’s progress and growth,” says Theresa DeNolf, MS CCC-SLP. Your family may want to ask the speech therapist about your goals for therapy, for example, or sit in on one of your sessions. A speech therapist can also give family and friends suggestions on how they can help you communicate.
2. “Involve your family.” https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fb3%2Fde%2Fcebd3f8f40b0b3ca86c87d0a590a%2Fistock-000007832360-small.jpg
Speech-language pathologists are also trained in swallowing therapy. Nerve damage and muscle weakness can make it difficult for some stroke patients to swallow, explains Anna Coleman, MA CCC-SLP. A speech therapist can help you avoid choking and aspiration (food or liquid going down the wrong pipe). This can lead to pneumonia.
3. “We do swallowing therapy, too.” https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F85%2F7c%2Fbef4cffb4d48b10d6d8047eedbfc%2Fimage-isk-22148761.jpg
Games, role-play, and drills are staples of speech therapy. “Try as best you can to have an open mind,” Flanagan says. “Some of the exercises may seem a bit silly, but they are effective in assisting recovery.” There is no one-size-fits-all recovery regimen, adds Avivit Ben-Aharon, MA CCC-SLP . “Being open to different therapeutic interventions is essential,” he says.
4. “Try to have an open mind.” https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fd0%2F24%2F5ae0c1834534bd3a19c792e2de0b%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-getty-499875091.jpg
Even though your sessions with a therapist may be 45 minutes
long, home practice sessions should be much shorter, Sullivan says. She
recommends practicing for 10 to 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. “Take a break
when you get frustrated,” she stresses.