Speech Therapy After Strokes: Exercises That Help Restore Language
Someone in America has a stroke every 40 seconds.
A stroke is an abrupt disruption in the blood supply to the brain, due to a clot or a burst in a blood vessel, it can be caused by things like diabetes, smoking habits or high cholesterol, and it can affect a person’s quality of life in many different ways, namely by damaging their ability to communicate.
Thankfully, there are many exercises that help victims relearn how to speak properly. If you or anyone you know is in this situation, keep reading and learn more about speech therapy after strokes.
What is Aphasia?
In simple words, aphasia is what we mentioned before: when someone has a stroke and, as a result, loses the ability to control their use of language.
It happens when the left side of the brain suffers the stroke and the language center ends up being affected.
Note this language disorder doesn’t affect your intelligence, but your communication skills. And there’s no one single way in which it manifests. Rather, it can affect one or more types of communication, such as your:
- Ability to read;
- Ability to use numbers;
- Ability to comprehend written text;
- Ability to write;
- Ability to talk properly or at all.
But not everything is bad, so let’s jump into the simple exercises that can make a huge difference in your speech skills.
Speech Therapy After Strokes: 6 Exercises That Help
Since aphasia can affect different communication skills, there are different types of aphasia and the right solution for each varies.
Today, we bring you a variety of exercises that work on different competencies. With time and professional aid, you’ll figure out which ones are ideal for your specific case.
1. Tongue Movements
Your tongue plays a big role in your ability to produce certain sounds. Therefore, if you’re having a hard time speaking properly and making the correct sounds to form specific words, doing some tongue exercises could be a good solution.
So, try moving your tongue:
- Side to side: stick your tongue out and move it from one corner of your mouth to the other, holding it on each side for 2 seconds.
- Up and down: stick your tongue out and try to reach your nose and your chin alternately, holding it on each position for 2 seconds.
- In and out: stick your tongue out for 2 seconds, put it back in for 2 seconds, and repeat.
It’s a good idea to do these strengthening exercises in front of a mirror, as you can make sure that you’re doing each movement correctly.
2. Breathing Exercises
If your aphasia happens because you have trouble controlling your breathing cycles and so you end up taking breaks amidst sentences, which makes it difficult for people to understand them, you should take some time to do breathing exercises.
Breathing mindfully in front of a mirror for one minute straight, repeating certain sentences and breaths, and planning out your breaths for the sentence you’re about to say are three good ideas.
3. Keeping a Diary
This one can be hard to start if your stroke has impaired your ability to write, but it can be extremely helpful in the long run. You can always get some help from friends or family members to make the process smoother.
Besides helping with your writing and comprehension abilities, keeping a diary helps with memory and concentration, so if you’ve been struggling with those as well, writing a diary is definitely a good habit to take on.
Plus, it can be very therapeutic and it can help you with your overall wellbeing after you went through a traumatic experience like a stroke.
4. Singing Therapy
So you’re having a hard time talking. But have you tried singing? When you sing, you use a different part of your brain located on the right side, which explains why some people can do it after a stroke, even if their ability to speak has been damaged.
Through singing therapy, otherwise known as melodic intonation therapy, you can become more aware of the rhythm you produce in each sound you make, which will help you relearn how to communicate.
By learning to use the right side of the brain in order to community, instead of the now damaged left side, you’ll be able to say what you want to say again.
6. Word Games
When we say word games, we mean any brain game.
If you’ve been having a hard time using numbers since you’ve had a stroke, you can start doing some easy sudoku games. If words are harder for you, crossword puzzles or word search games can be useful.
Whichever type of brain games you choose to do, they’ll definitely also help with your thinking and comprehension abilities, so you’ll always win something from this new habit.
7. Mobile Apps
A final thing that can help you in your recovery is the use of technology.
Nowadays, there are many apps that have been developed specifically for people who’ve had a stroke and some of them are even free, so as long as you have an Android or an iPhone, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use them.
A few examples you could try are Constant Therapy, Language Therapy 4-in-1 and SmallTalk.
Patience and Practice Are Key
Losing the ability to do something that you’d been doing every single day for so many years is a hard thing to accept.
If this has happened to you, it’s perfectly normal to feel defeated at first. But it’s important that you know that things get better. It’ll take some time and work, but speech therapy after strokes can have great results.
So take your time to work on yourself, experiment with different exercises and find what works best for you.
And of course, getting professional help makes the entire process a lot easier and smoother. So feel free to schedule a free initial consultation and we’ll help you find the best way to recovery!