By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 09/25/2018
How to make use of augmentative and alternative communication

Augmentative and alternative communication is a general term used to refer to approaches, strategies, and tools, that enable children and adults with autism and speech and language disorders to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and emotions.

Augmentative and alternative communication is not appropriate for everyone with a speech or language disorder, but may be useful for people with apraxia of speech, stroke-related dysphasia and dysarthria, and other conditions that affect written expression and/or control of the muscles of the face, throat and mouth, such as cerebral palsy.

Sign language, pen and paper, and hand gestures are basic forms of augmentative and alternative communication, as is using a chart and pointing to pictures, letters, words or symbols.

Alternatives to speech can be as high-tech as specially fitted devices which allow people to communicate using custom buttons and pressure sensors, or as everyday as children and adults making use of a laptop computer and smartphone to meet their communication needs. On a computer or mobile device, written language can either be typed and displayed on screen or typed and read aloud by an automatized voice facilitated by text-to-speech technology.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 05/07/2018
Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Both apraxia of speech and aphasia affect an individual’s ability to communicate – they just do so in different ways. Apraxia makes it hard to coordinate muscle movements and put sounds in the right order to produce intelligible speech. It may also impact on speech planning. Individuals can struggle with consonant clusters, rhythm, and stress, and may generally experience difficulties with aspects related to the prosody of language.

On the other hand, aphasia is about language retrieval and recognition. People with aphasia or dysphasia may not be able to find the words they need to express themselves in speech or in writing, or they might use the wrong words and not realize it. Additionally, individuals with receptive aphasia don’t always understand what other people are saying and can finding listening and reading challenging.

If aphasia and apraxia of speech are the result of a stroke, a person may also experience difficulties with enunciation, referred to as dysarthria. This can present as trouble controlling the volume levels of speech, excessive drooling, or problems getting enough air while speaking. Dysarthria is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat and face.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 04/03/2018
Which exercises can help with regaining speech after a stroke

Communication difficulties following a stroke can take many forms. You may experience trouble finding the right word or have problems processing language that is directed at you – these conditions are commonly referred to as aphasia/dysphasia. When you struggle with speaking it’s referred to as productive aphasia and with understanding it’s receptive aphasia.

Aphasia and dysphasia are almost the same thing, except dysphasia is when you have partial access to language and aphasia is when you have none. Some individuals who have had a stroke find speaking difficult because of challenges with annunciation; this is called dysarthria. Speaking and breathing at the same time, or swallowing, may also be problematic with dysarthria.

It’s possible for paralysis, hemiplegia – one-sided paralysis - or hemiparesis - weakness on one side of the body following a stroke - to interrupt written modes of communication such as writing or typing. But just as every individual is unique, so is their recovery and it can be hard to put an exact estimate on the time it will take to regain communicative ability and/or how fully it will return.

Many people see the greatest gains in the first six weeks, as swelling in the brain goes down, and language processing areas which were temporarily affected come back online. However, it’s possible to see improvements for years after a stroke, particularly if an individual continues to receive speech therapy to strengthen and reinforce communication skills and confidence.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 08/07/2017
What to expect for aphasia recovery time following a stroke

One of the most common symptoms following a stroke is a disruption to language and communicative ability. This is a condition referred to as aphasia or dysphasia. The name aphasia implies a total loss of language, as compared to dysphasia, which is partial loss.

Nonetheless, the two terms are used somewhat interchangeably with dysphasia more common in Europe and the UK. Aphasia is a result of trauma to the brain, including when brain cells are deprived of oxygen or sustain damage due to internal bleeding. It can result in difficulty finding and retrieving words, producing intelligible speech, negotiating syntax (grammar), and sometimes even understanding what other people are saying.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 06/27/2017
Dysarthria vs. Aphasia

While both dysarthria and aphasia can affect an individual’s ability to produce fluent and intelligible speech, they have very different causes. Dysarthria is an umbrella term used for disorders that impact the muscles used in speaking, including the lips, tongue, throat, vocal chords and diaphragm.

It causes a wide range of symptoms including breathy and nasal speech, drooling, uneven starts and stops, irregular volume, intonation and emphasis, and unclear articulation of words. Unlike brain-based conditions, language comprehension skills are typically not affected. On the other hand, aphasia is the result of injury to the brain. It has to do with understanding and producing language and symptoms will depend on the location and severity of the brain damage.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 06/13/2017
Some kinds of stroke therapy can be done at home

According to the Stroke Association in the United Kingdom and the American Stroke Association, there are over 8.2 million stroke survivors in the UK and the US. Many of these individuals undertake daily rehab activities in their own homes, either independently, or with the help of a friend, family carer or a trained specialist.

Stroke rehabilitation is many things including physical treatments that aim to improve gross and fine motor skills, language drills to restore communicative abilities, cognitive training to strengthen memory, occupational therapy to help with the performance of everyday tasks, and even emotional therapy to deal with any issues of depression or isolation that arise in the aftermath of a stroke.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 04/25/2017
What's the difference between aphasia, dysphasia and dysarthria

It can be difficult to distinguish between conditions with similar sounding names, particularly when they are co-occurring or have closely related symptoms. This is often the case for aphasia, dysphasia and dysarthria, disorders which affect speech and language use.

What makes them different is the nature and amount of disruption to communicative abilities. In aphasia and dysphasia the brain may have experienced some kind of trauma, due to a head injury or stroke, and as a result there are problems with language use. Disruptions may be on the productive side (speech/writing) or primarily affect receptive abilities (comprehension).

On the other hand, dysarthria is a disruption to the muscles that are used to produce speech. It does not affect a person’s understanding of the meaning behind words or an individual’s ability to manipulate syntax (grammar).

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 01/09/2017
Activities for stroke patients

For the majority of stroke patients, the road to recovery is a long one that includes many hours of therapy aimed at restoring both physical strength and language capacity. People who suffer a serious stroke may lose the ability to coordinate muscles and execute complex movements.

They can have trouble performing routine tasks including bathing, dressing and feeding themselves. Some will experience numbness or lose feeling in their limbs. Many will have difficulty understanding and producing language. While is not always possible to recover completely from a stroke, with the right treatment plan quality of life can be improved.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 02/02/2016
Communicating with stroke patients

It takes us a lifetime to master communication skills in our mother tongue but our ability to communicate can be erased in an instant when a stroke occurs. That’s because a stroke cuts off blood supply to the brain, causing brain cells to be deprived of oxygen. Depending on the location and severity of a stroke, motor, memory and language skills can be impacted.