After a stroke, patients may experience aphasia, a condition that affects the ability to speak, read and understand spoken words. Speech language pathologists are often tasked with helping stroke patients recover these vital abilities. Some patients may get frustrated during this process, and it can be hard for SLPs to keep their patients positive and motivated. Read on for tips on how to work with stroke patients dealing with aphasia:
1. Recommend some apps
If your patients are keen to recover quickly, but only see you one or two times a week, consider suggesting some apps for them to use at home.
When your patients are able to practice in their free time, they’ll be more likely to recover speedily. Apps are an excellent way to provide a guided, structured experience that’s easy to use. Tactus Therapy noted that many apps are customizable, so each patient can work on targeted skills. There are apps available to help with spelling, writing, identification, listening and more.
2. Get the family involved
Often, family members will struggle to communicate with the individual who has experienced a stroke. This can strain relationships and make recovery more difficult. As an SLP, you can involve family members by teaching them how to communicate more effectively and even help with their loved one’s treatment. The American Stroke Association reported that family members help out by learning to simplify their language and use gestures to communicate key points. Learning to pause and establish a topic of conversation before communicating is one easy way for family members to help their loved one understand.
3. Find ways to make recovery more enjoyable
There’s no doubt that the path to regaining speech functions is difficult and at times, tiresome. Anything you can do to make the experience more enjoyable is worth the effort. For example, you find out what kinds of activities your patients enjoy and try to work them into their therapy sessions. U.S. News and World Report recommended using music as a way to ease patients into the process.
Speaking with the publication, clinical researcher Michelle Troche said, “Someone may be able to sing, but not speak the word. The hope is that if you can access language through song or melody, maybe this will transfer to general conversation.”
Finding out a patient’s favorite song or artist may be just the thing that gets them more involved in the recovery process. At the very least, it will make sessions more enjoyable and relaxed.
4. Incorporate various learning styles
Not everyone learns the same way, and neither will they recover from aphasia in the same manner. Methods that work with one patient may be completely ineffective with another. Remind patients of this fact when they get discouraged. A negative attitude can be fatal for the recovery process. So, if one method, such as visualization, isn’t working, switch to something else, like repetition or association.
Recovering from stroke-related aphasia is difficult, but personalizing the process will make it go more smoothly. Focus on each individual’s interests and learning styles, and you’re likely to see them make progress.