Stroke

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What to expect

Stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. A stroke can cause a child to have a variety of speech and language difficulties depending on which area of the brain is damaged. Speech and language therapy will help to improve areas of speech and language that have been affected. Speech and language therapy will also help to improve any eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbed or interrupted blood supply to the brain. There are two main types of stroke:

Ischaemic

An ischaemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked.

Haemorrhage

A haemorrhage stroke is the leakage of blood from the blood vessels in to the brain.

A stroke will usually occur in the left side of the brain, the left side of the brain is usually the side which controls language.

Following a stroke the child may experience difficulties moving their limbs on one side of the body and also have difficulty with their speech and language, including either receptive (understanding) and expressive (verbal and written) language or a mixture of both. The severity and type of speech and language difficulties will depend on the area(s) of the brain that have been affected and the extent of the damage to the brain.

Children who have suffered a stroke may experience mild to severe difficulties with their speech and language. In addition they may also have difficulties with eating and drinking. Common difficulties include:

  • Expressive language difficulties, where the child may have difficulty with speech, experience word finding difficulties and may also have difficulty with writing.
  • Receptive language difficulties, where the child may have difficulty understanding written and spoken language.
  • Mixed receptive or expressive language difficulties, where the child may experience difficulty in both receptive and expressive language.
  • What causes a stroke in childhood?

    The causes of strokes in children are different to the causes of strokes in adults. The causes of stroke in children are mainly due to an underlying problem e.g. a heart problem or sickle cell anaemia.

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

    Any area of speech and language can be affected as a result of a stroke. Speech and language therapy can help with the following difficulties which may occur as a result of a stroke:

    How is a stroke in childhood diagnosed?

      A stroke in childhood is diagnosed by a team of medical professionals. The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment to determine what areas of speech and language have been affected and also the severity of these difficulties. The speech and language therapist will also assess whether the childs eating and drinking abilities have been affected. An Initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will include:

    • A conversation with you about your childs speech and language skills and any concerns you may have.
    • A case history of your childs development.
    • An observation of your childs speech and language skills.
    • A detailed assessment of your childs expressive and receptive language and also eating and drinking abilities.
    • Assessment may include asking your child to follow simple or more complex instructions, asking your child to name and describe pictures, an observation of your childs eating and drinking ability.

    How does speech and language therapy help children with a stroke?

    Following a stroke early intervention is important and has been found to be beneficial in helping to improve a childs communication, eating and drinking difficulties. The main aim of speech and language therapy is to help improve and maximise your childs communication. If your child has additional eating and drinking difficulties the main focus of speech and language therapy will be for your child to be eating and drinking as safely as possible. Speech and language therapy will vary for each individual child and will depend on the area of the brain affected and also the severity of your childs speech and language difficulty. Common aims of speech and language therapy following a stroke are to improve expressive (verbal and written) and receptive (understanding) communication, helping with word finding difficulties and helping your child to follow instructions.

    In more severe cases following a stroke a child may have very limited understanding and may also be non-verbal (not able to speak). In such cases the speech and language therapist will use alternative forms of communication to help support your childs communication e.g. the use of visual aids, gesture and writing.

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

    An initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will identify the areas and severity of the speech and language difficulties caused by the stroke. Speech and language therapy may include:

    How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

    To arrange an initial assessment with one of our speech and language therapists please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.

    Summary

    Following a stroke a child may experience a variety of speech, language, eating and drinking difficulties. The severity and area of speech and language affected will depend on the area of the brain damage. Speech and language therapy is beneficial and will aim to improve your childs communication and eating and drinking. If you feel you and your child will benefit from speech and language therapy then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing office@slt.co.uk or calling 0330 0885 643.


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    Next steps

    To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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