Stroke survivors have an ‘excellent opportunity’ to recover speech
Chris Fountain says he ‘felt really stupid’ after mini-stroke
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Following a brain haemorrhage, stroke patients are at risk of aphasia – a language and communication disorder. “Aphasia can affect a person’s ability to understand speech, speak, read, write and use numbers,” the Stroke Association notes. The charity clarifies: “It doesn’t affect intelligence as people with aphasia still think in the same way but are unable to communicate their thoughts easily.
“Aphasia will affect people in different ways and no two people will have exactly the same difficulties.”
A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, found that singing could improve language function in stroke survivors.
Singing-based rehabilitation can “support communication and speech production” and it provides “opportunities for peer support”.
Postdoctoral Researcher Sini-Tuuli Siponkoski said: “Our study utilised a wide variety of singing elements.”
These included “choral singing, melodic intonation therapy and tablet-assisted singing training”.
In melodic intonation therapy, speech production is practised gradually by utilising melody and rhythm to progress from singing towards speech production, she explained.
Moreover, the rehabilitation sessions were led by a trained music therapist and a trained choir conductor.
Researcher Siponkoski added: “In addition to training in speech production, group-based rehabilitation provides an excellent opportunity for peer support both for the patients and their families.”
Neurologist Dr Robert Brown said: “A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities.”
Complications can include paralysis, or loss of muscle movement; for example, a stroke survivor may lose the ability to move the left side of their body.
Damage to the brain might lead to memory loss or thinking difficulties, which could affect a person’s judgement.
There could be more difficulty controlling emotions, or depression could develop, noted Dr Brown.
People who have had a stroke could experience “unusual sensations” in the body, which could be described as a “tingling” feeling in a limb.
“People who have had strokes may become more withdrawn. They may need help with grooming and daily chores,” Dr Brown added.
“Brain damage to the left side of the brain may cause speech and language disorders,” Dr Brown stated.
Most stroke survivors will undergo rehabilitation, but treatment is unique to the individual.
Experts involved in aftercare could include a:
- Rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist)
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Recreational therapist
- Speech pathologist
- Social worker or case manager
- Psychologist or psychiatrist
“Maintaining your self-esteem, connections to others and interest in the world are essential parts of your recovery,” said Dr Brown.
People who are suffering from speech and language difficulties are advised to practise conversation, in comforting settings, and to “say it your way”, even if that means relying on gestures.
Dr Brown added: “You may find it helpful to use cue cards showing frequently used words.”
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