Stroke Survivors Benefit From Speech Therapy - Colorado Speech Therapy Services

By Karen Barta

Speech therapy can provide great benefit and rehabilitation for stroke survivors. The goal of speech therapy is not a cure - it cannot provide a cure - but it can help you reach your highest potential.

Stroke survivors face a number of challenges when trying to integrate back into everyday life. One of the biggest challenges is language impairment, called aphasia. More than 20% of stroke victims suffer from some form of aphasia, whether it's the inability to form words, a difficulty understanding the spoken word, problems with reading and writing or a combination of any of the four areas.

There are three main types of aphasia. The first, and most common, type is called Broca's aphasia. This type of aphasia affects a person's ability to find and articulate words clearly. The person may have a complete understanding of speech but often becomes frustrated when trying to get their words out. Broca's aphasia is often accompanied by muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, usually the right side.

Aphasia results from damage to the areas of the brain that control language. In Broca's aphasia, the area was deprived of nutrient-rich blood long enough to cause damage to the center that enables a person to form and articulate new words. In Wernicke's aphasia, the center that processes words into understandable concepts sustains damage. With global aphasia, both areas are damaged, resulting in difficulty communicating and comprehension.

The third type of aphasia is called global aphasia. This aphasia is characterized by difficulties in the production and understanding of language. Individuals may use automatic words and phrases used in the past, though these utterances are rarely used in an appropriate context.

Speech therapy can greatly benefit most individuals afflicted by aphasia. Increasing levels of difficulty are introduced gradually during the course of therapy to allow individuals to attain their highest level of skill. The prognosis is usually quite good when therapy is started early and given priority. This typically means that therapy is started quickly after the initial stroke and the sessions are intense.

Optimally, treatment should be undertaken for an average of not less than 8 hours per week until the patient is at or near full function. The studies showed that treatments given for fewer than 8 hours per week were less productive. - 30540

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