Stroke

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What to expect

Stroke

A Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. Without this supply, brain cells can be damaged and destroyed as nutrients and oxygen will not reach the cells and will not be able to function as normal. This is known as an attack of the brain.

Speech and language therapy can treat and support any speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties caused by a stroke. Speech and language therapy will provide an individualised therapy programme to help improve and support communication and swallowing difficulties.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is an attack on the brain when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. This can either be through a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. In the UK, every year roughly 145,000 people have a stroke. It is more common in people over 65 however can occur at any age. It is important to note, that a stroke affects people in many different ways and varies in severity.

A stroke can affect speech, movement, memory and thought processes. The extent of damage will depend upon which part of the brain is affected, as well as the health of the person before the stroke.

The two hemispheres of your brain affect different functions of your body. For example; the right side of the brain will control the left side of your body. Therefore damage to the right side of your brain will mean problems with the left side of your body. Language, talking, writing and reading are all controlled in the left hemisphere of the brain. Perceptual skills and spatial awareness are controlled in the right hemisphere.

There are two types of stroke, an Ischaemic stroke or a Haemorrhagic stroke.

Ischaemic stroke

An ischaemic stroke is a blockage to an artery carrying blood to the brain. Causes can vary from a blood clot, air bubble or fat globule in the blood vessel or main artery. This is the most common cause of stroke.

Haemorrhagic stroke

A haemorrhagic stroke is the bursting of a blood vessel resulting in bleeding into the brain. This hemorrhage may be caused by either a vessel bursting in the brain, or a vessel bursting on the surface and leaking into the area between brain and skull.

Another cause of a stroke includes a transient ischaemic attack.

Transient ischaemic attack

A transient ischaemic attack occurs when the brain has the blood supply interrupted for a brief amount of time. Commonly known as a mini stroke, the symptoms are the same as a normal stroke, however only last for a maximum 24 hours. This could be a warning sign that the brain is not getting enough oxygen and so may lead to a more serious form of stroke.

What causes a stroke?

The cause of a stroke is a blood clot or bleed into the brain. This cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain and does not allow it to function properly. There are a number of risk factors associated with a stroke. Some of these can be changed but some cannot. Things such as age, family history and ethnicity are non-changeable risk factors. Manageable risks are things such as; high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

What problems caused by a stroke can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy can help with a number of problems arising after a stroke. Depending upon which type of stroke someone has had, a speech and language therapist will work on some or all of these areas:

There are many benefits to having speech and language therapy after a stroke, below are a list of just some of them:

How does speech and language therapy help with a stroke?

Speech and language therapy can help with the effects of a stroke and improve on many different associated difficulties. This includes, swallowing, eating, drinking and associated language problems.

After a stroke, many people have difficulties with their language. This is known as Aphasia, either expressive which involves not being able to find the right words or receptive which is the understanding of words. It is possible to have a mixture of each type. If difficulties are more to do with the formation of words, this is known as Dysarthria. This is when the stroke affects the movement in your face, tongue or throat.

If the right hemisphere is affected this can be termed right hemisphere communication disorder. Right hemisphere communication disorder can often go unnoticed as it doesn't directly affect speech or language. Instead it affects how an individual uses language in everyday social situations, known as social communication. An individual's ability to take turns in conversation, attention and ability to concentrate can be affected.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a stroke involve?

Speech and language therapy treatment for a stroke will involve trying to build upon the parts of the brain which are affected and help to compensate and improve associated problems of a stroke. An initial assessment will be done to decide upon the best type of treatment and treatment that is specific. Speech and language therapy will involve all or some of the following:

Treatment may also include:

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