How to Improve Speech After a Stroke

 woman at therapy after a stroke

A stroke is a type of brain injury that occurs when oxygen supply to the brain is cut off, often by way of a blood clot. The resulting death of vital brain cells impairs function in other parts of the body. Many stroke survivors suffer speech and language difficulties due to weakened oral muscles and interruption of brain-to-mouth messages. This may result in trouble swallowing, talking, understanding, reading, or writing. Speech therapy after a stroke is a powerful tool, and a therapist who specializes in stroke rehabilitation can help patients strengthen muscles and restore communication skills. Take a look below at some of the speech therapist-recommended strategies to help improve speech after a stroke. 

Sing

Music therapy has several positive effects on people who have suffered from a stroke. Some stroke rehabilitation therapists have been able to help patients sing their way to improved speech skills. No need to pull out a songbook.  Familiar songs such as “Row Your Boat” and “Happy Birthday” can help.  And while not every stroke survivor with regains all their speech skills, music therapy helps in other ways, too. It has a positive effect on emotions, and when combined with movement, can also help improve coordination and motor skills.    

Play

Speech therapy for a stroke doesn’t have to be boring. Board games that require verbal communication, such as Pictionary, Scattegories (Junior), and Battleship, are a fun way to exercise language skills. Depending on the game chosen, some have the added benefit of aiding in attention, dexterity, and memory as well. Television game shows like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Family Feud are great for practicing language and memory skills, too.

Try an app

Speech therapy apps for stroke survivors allow you to strengthen your communication skills wherever you are—as long as you have your smartphone or other device with you. Constant Therapy is a single app with 100K+ exercises for cognition, language, and communication. Tactus Therapy offers a variety of easy-to-use apps that allow you to customize and personalize your speech therapy program. 
 

Exercise your mouth

Speech difficulties following a stroke are often the result of damage to the area of the brain responsible for oral control. Oral motor therapy helps to strengthen weakened oral muscles and improve speech production.  Some fun oral exercises include blowing bubbles, blowing a harmonica or kazoo, or sucking up through a straw.  What this means is that you can now think of your favorite strawberry banana smoothie as therapy!

Talk it out

Even if your language skills have been impaired from a stroke, it’s important to practice communication in any way you can.  While speech difficulties may cause you embarrassment and make you want to stop talking altogether, isolating yourself or giving up will not help you recover. Try talking with someone you trust to be patient and to stay engaged even when it takes you time to get the words out. What you talk about doesn’t matter, as long as you keep exercising those communication skills. You can stay home and look at photographs together or go to a museum and look at art.  Talk about what you see and feel. Take your time and be patient with yourself, and bring a notebook to write words down if it helps. Joining a stroke recovery group is also a great option.  Staying engaged in communication with others will not only help you strengthen your language skills, but it will also reduce the risk of depression. 

Looking for stroke rehabilitation in San Diego? Come see us.

At Bella Vista Health Center, we offer a range of services for patients in need of stroke rehabilitation. Using a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, our skilled and compassionate team of providers creates an evidence-based, customized treatment plan designed around the specific needs of each patient.  We’re also dedicated to maintaining a safe and nurturing environment that supports patient wellness and recovery. For more information, come in and visit our 5-star skilled nursing facility in Lemon Grove today.