Speech and Language Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation
Many People have Speech and Swallowing Problems Following a Stroke
A stroke is a devastating event, as it can cause paralysis which is often on one side of the body and all kinds of other problems depending on where the brain was damaged. About a third of the people who have strokes will have difficulty speaking called aphasia and about 40% of stroke victims have problems swallowing called dysphagia.
Speech and Language Therapists and Stroke Rehabilitation
For these reasons, stroke rehabilitation treatment always includes a speech and/or language therapist on the team. However, many of the people who have strokes have multiple problems and speech and swallowing rehabilitation are only a part of a much wider team that usually also includes a physical therapist, occupational therapist and recreational therapist. Recreational therapy may also include pet therapy and music therapy. Please see our earlier blog from February 22, 2018, to learn more about stroke rehabilitation.
Swallowing problems can lead to choking and sometimes a person who has had a stroke will have to be fed by a food tube inserted in their stomach until they can learn to swallow again.
Swallowing Rehabilitation Program
It is crucial for testing to be done to identify swallowing problems within the first 24 hours of being in the hospital following a stroke, Swallowing rehabilitation may include the following:
- Suggestions for changes in posture
- Head lifting exercises
- Instruction on which foods are easiest to swallow
- How to deal with choking
The therapist will have to find out just what kind of communication problems you are having. They can fall into the following categories:
- Finding it difficult to understand the meaning of words
- Finding it difficult to find the right words to say
- Weakness in muscles of the mouth
- Problems with controlling breathing muscles
- Problems making the right sounds
- Problems with constructing sentences
The Need to find Other Ways of Communicating
Sometimes the speech therapist will suggest other ways of communicating until speech can be restored. Some of these are:
- Making gestures
- Using a letter board
It can be very frustrating and tiring trying to communicate, so the therapist will usually begin with short sessions for exercises.
The sooner treatment begins the greater is the chance for improvement and therapy should begin while you are in the hospital and continued afterwards in a proper rehabilitation treatment center, especially if you also have motor function problems.
Music Therapy and Neurologic Music Therapy
It was reported at a Special US Senate Hearing on Aging, that people with neurological problems who could not speak sometimes burst out in song while listening to music and also some people were found tapping a paralyzed limb when listening to music. Neuroscientists, following these accounts, discovered that the part of the left side of the brain connected with talking is much smaller than the parts of the brain that connect to music and rhythm. This led to music therapy and neurologic music therapy that use rhythm and music to help someone who has been afflicted with a stroke to regain the ability to talk. Be sure to find a stroke rehabilitation facility for your loved one that also has music therapy as part of their programs. You can read all about neurologic music therapy and music therapy in our blog post from March 6, 2018.
Ditmas Park Rehab Center in Brooklyn NY
The Ditmas Park Rehab Center in Brooklyn NY has earned an excellent reputation for their stroke rehabilitation treatment and has received above average ratings. They also include both pet and music therapy as part of their recreational therapy programs. Ditmas Park is near the following Brooklyn hospitals:
- New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital
- NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
- SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn
- NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County
- Maimonides Medical Center
It would be best to find your loved one a rehabilitation facility that not only has a good reputation for stroke rehabilitation with excellent speech, language, occupational and physical therapy programs, but also includes music therapy, since music has been scientifically found to help many stroke victims regain the ability to speak.