During stroke recovery you can help yourself or a loved one develop substantial speech and language improvements.
And here, we will show you how.
The following information will help you better understand:
- What a stroke is
- The causes of a stroke
- Symptoms of stroke
- How a stroke affects your health and communication skills
- How you can use intensive therapy to improve your speech and language skills during the stroke recovery process!
We will also provide you with valuable links that will lead you to more sources of helpful information regarding stroke recovery.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke, also known as a cerebral vascular accident or CVA, is a type of brain injury. It occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted.
Our blood is responsible for carrying oxygen to the brain.
When that oxygen supply is cut off vital brain cells begin to die. As a result, parts of the body controlled by these cells become impaired.
Why the brain needs a constant blood supply:
The brain is the most complex organ in the body. It regulates absolutely everything your body does - breathing, moving, sweating, sleeping, waking, feeling, your moods, your thoughts, your speech.
To perform all these functions the brain must have a constant supply of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. If the blood supply fails, as in a stroke, the brain cells become damaged or die.
Unlike other cells in the body, once brain cells have died they
cannot be replaced.
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A Stroke may Occur in Several Ways:
Blood clot: This can clog an artery and cut off blood supply to the brain.
Atherosclerosis: This is hardening of the arteries that lead to the brain. When the artery walls become narrow, blood clots have a greater chance of forming.
Burst artery: The wall of an artery can become weak and break open spilling blood into the surrounding area.
Brain Hemorrhage: A hemorrhage is bleeding within the brain. Continuous bleeding occurs through a ruptured artery. A weakened spot on an artery wall can cause it to swell like a balloon. The vessel wall may become so thin and stretched it bursts causing bleeding into the brain.
The accumulation of blood from a brain hemorrhage can create pressure on neighboring brain cells causing additional damage.
Each one of these causes will result in a different type of stroke.
Results of Stroke
For some, the physical results are mild and short lived. For others, they are more severe, resulting in long-term disabilities:
Hemiplegia (hem-ee-plee-zhuh): This is a paralysis on one side of the body. This condition is caused by damage to an area of the brain responsible for muscle movement.
Why only one side of the body?
The brain has an interesting setup. The left side of the brain
(the left hemisphere) controls muscle movement on the right side of the body. And, the right side of the brain (the right hemisphere) controls movement on the left side of the body.
This arrangement allows us to observe a paralysis on the side of the body opposite of where the brain damage occurred. Stroke recovery for hemiplegia will focus on physical therapy.
Hemiparesis (hem-ee-pa-ree-sis): Muscle weakness on one side of the body. It is similar to hemiplegia except that it causes slight or incomplete paralysis on one side of the body.
As with hemiplegia, hemiparesis will require intensive physical therapy during the stroke recovery process.
There are a variety of speech disorders related to stroke. Speech difficulties are usually associated with damage to the left side of the brain. Stroke recovery for these disorders will focus on speech and language therapy.
A reduction in strength and coordination in the muscles associated with speech. Simply put, weak oral muscles.
Not being able to perform coordinated oral muscle movements required for speech when the person is not suffering from
paralysis or muscle damage.
This means that the person's oral muscles are fine, but the messages sent from the brain to move those muscles are being interrupted.
Oral Apraxia: Not being able to perform coordinated oral
muscle movements on command when the person is not suffering from paralysis or muscle damage.
Dysphagia: Difficulties with swallowing.
The term, aphasia refers to a disorder that may affect all aspects of language.
This includes reading, writing, naming (word finding), auditory comprehension, problem solving, reasoning, and gesturing, among others.
refers to difficulty understanding spoken language or written words. For this type of aphasia stroke recovery will focus on regaining comprehension skills.
refers to deficits in an individual's ability to express thoughts through speech or writing. For this type of aphasia stroke recovery will focus on verbal and written expessive skills.
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Frequently, stroke survivors that have aphasia experience some level of memory impairment. Depending on the site of lesion and the severity of the stroke, patients may experience impairment with short-term memory, long-term memory, or both.
However, stroke survivors frequently experience problems related to short-term memory. This deficit is associated with an inability to pay close attention to a task they're performing. Through speech and language therapy stroke recovery will involve memory drills and strategies.
Stages of Memory
Normal memory functioning occurs in three stages:
Stage One: This is when the brain collects information. You pay attention to a task or event, you process the information, and then you add meaning to it.
Stage Two: This is when the brain stores information. While you are processing the information, your brain determines if it is important enough to hold on to. If so, the information is held in your mind long enough for it to be stored for later recall.
Stage Three: This is the stage when the brain calls for the stored information. In stage one the brain collected information. In stage two it stored it. And now, in stage three, it can retrieve the information as needed.
Out of the three stages, stage one is most important. Most memory problems are due to lack of attention. In order for information to get stored into our memory, it must have meaning.
Attention is the ability to select signals that
we consider important enough to focus on (like speech). Attention also involves selecting signals that aren't important and we choose to ignore (like a TV in the background).
During stroke recovery, some people may have difficulty in distinguishing between what deserves their attention and what does not.
Stroke survivors can help improve their memory skills by consciously paying attention to whatever task they're engaged in.
Then, using techniques such as:
- Association (arranging material into related groups)
- Repetition (repeating incoming messages)
- Visualization ("seeing" with your mind's eye)
the brain can better store the information.
Stroke recovery may also include therapy to aid with sensory disturbances.
Stroke patients may lose the ability to feel touch, pain, temperature, or position. Sensory deficits may also hinder the ability to recognize objects that patients are holding and can even be severe enough to cause loss of recognition of one's own limb.
Occasionally, a stroke survivor might experience something called bodily neglect. This means they are unaware of or ignoring one side of their body or visual field.
In some stroke patients, if the pathways for sensation in the brain are damaged, it may cause false signals of pain to be sent to parts of the body that actually have no physical damage.
Pain, numbness, or odd sensations might be experienced by individuals during stroke recovery.
Stroke survivors frequently have a variety of chronic pain syndromes resulting from stroke-induced damage to the nervous system. Patients who have seriously weakened or paralyzed limbs commonly experience moderate to severe pain on their affected side.
Most often, the pain results from a joint becoming immobilized. Due to lack of movement, the tendons and ligaments around body joints can become fixed in one position.
This condition is not uncommon after a stroke. Physical therapists can help reduce the pain by manually moving the limbs and joints. Daily mobility can keep the tendons and ligaments from locking up.
Many people who survive a stroke experience fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and a sense of grief for their physical and mental losses. These feelings are a natural response to the psychological distress of stroke.
However, keep in mind that some emotional disturbances and personality changes are directly caused by the physical effects of brain damage.
How a stroke survivor reacts to these changes may have an effect on their emotions and behavior.
Stroke patients may become confused, uncooperative and irritable, and may demonstrate hasty changes in mood. They may have difficulty adjusting to their new situation and become worried, frustrated, or tearful over matters of no great concern.
Apparent changes in personality following a stroke can be very unsettling to the survivor’s family. People affected by stroke may not seem to have the same personality as before. The way in which they think, feel and react may be altered.
Dealing with these changes during stroke recovery can be challenging. If necessary, you can ask with your physician about possible interventions.
Attending a stroke support group
is also a great way to help find strategies and ideas that
may improve your situation.
People who have had a stroke are often at an increased risk for depression.
Depression after stroke can affect anyone regardless of their age, sex, background, or the severity of their stroke. It can develop immediately after the onset of stroke, or more frequently, weeks or months later.
Depression often occurs as a stroke survivor becomes aware of how their lasting disability may affect their everyday life. Their career, family life, hobbies, passions, and hopes and plans for the future may all be at risk.
This is a natural reaction given the psychological trauma they have endured. Seeking help at this time is very important.
Depression creates a crucial problem: It can seriously affect a stroke patient's rehabilitation efforts.
They may refuse or neglect to take medications, participate in counseling, intake proper nutrition, or take part in speech therapy and physical therapy.
In time the depression may lift gradually, but counseling and appropriate medication may be necessary. Being assessed and receiving the right help is vital.
Managing depression throughout the stroke recovery process can truly make a difference in stroke recovery.
Difficulties in Perception:
Perception problems can include trouble recognizing items or being able to use everyday objects such as a toaster or teapot. They may also cause difficulties with abstract concepts such as telling the time.
Even though vision may be perfectly normal, it may be difficult
for the brain to interpret what the eyes see.
During the stroke recovery process, a speech-language pathologist can introduce exercises that can help the brain relearn functional perception.
As with any serious illness, emotional ups and downs may be experienced following a stroke. This includes mood swings such as laughing or crying even when you do not feel particularly happy or sad. It may also consist of swearing or laughing at inappropriate times.
Difficulty controlling emotions during stroke recovery can be due to psychological trauma, damage to specific areas of the brain, or both.
Improvement in mood swings may naturally occur as the stroke patient progresses through their recovery.
As their communication skills and physical abilities improve, so will their self-esteem and confidence.
This can lead to a more stable and appropriate frame of mind.
Tiredness is very common after stroke, though the causes for this are not fully recognized. There are several possible reasons, including:
- A sleep disturbance: Damage to a part of the brain that controls the body's sleep-waking cycle can cause unproductive sleep patterns.
- Depression: Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. If this is the case, fatigue should improve as the depression begins to lift.
- The brains inability to focus and pay attention: A stroke patient may have to work harder at concentrating, processing information, and storing information. This extra mental effort may lead to a feeling of unexpected fatigue.
Clearly, a stroke can impact a person’s body, behavior, and communication skills.
The American Stroke Association provides vital support to stroke survivors and their family.
It's worth your time to contact them and find out what resources they can offer to aid in the process of stroke recovery.
Effects of Stroke
The effects of a stroke and length of stroke recovery will vary from person to person. This largely depends on the area of the brain that sustained damaged and the severity of that damage.
offers a host of information related to stroke recovery including long term effects, treatment, rehabilitation exercises, resources, and help for caregivers.
To get answers to your questions about special needs and disabilities including financial planning, nutrition and dietary regimens, as well as assistive technology, visit
The Special Needs Almanac.
In the UK, Focus on Disability has a wide range of helpful information for people affected by stroke.
Also, icommunicate offers Speech Therapy through an online Live service, where you can talk to, and work with a professional and take part in a therapy programmes.
How Long Does it Take to Recover
From a Stroke?
Many people begin to recover from a stroke almost immediately after it has taken place. In the weeks and months following a stroke, many partially damaged cells begin to recover and start working again (known as "spontaneous recovery").
The length of time it takes for stroke recovery varies considerably from person to person. Even though many stroke patients demonstrate an initial spurt of improvement within the first few weeks, the following months and years are typically more challenging.
improvement can certainly be achieved many months and years following a stroke,
however, it is usually at a slower pace.
Months after a stroke a more aggressive approach to relearning lost skills becomes all the more important.
A daily routine of specialized exercises will help the learning process occur at a faster rate and produce greater long-term results.
The length and frequency of quality treatment absolutely makes a difference in stroke recovery.
How can you Receive Intensive Therapy?
Speech and Language Therapy on DVD!
At this time all our exercise DVDs are 30% off their original price!
Bringing successful speech and language exercises and professional techniques into your home was the innovative concept of our team of experienced speech-language pathologists.
Utilized extensively by trained speech pathologists in hospitals, clinics, and private practice, the speech and language exercises presented in these videos are of the highest, professional quality.
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