Stroke

A stroke (sometimes called a “brain attack”) occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.

A stroke can be caused by blood clots or blood vessel breaks or ruptures in the brain, which deprives the brain of the required oxygen and glucose. The effects of the stroke depend on the extent to which, and the area of the brain that is damaged. Many people may experience communication and swallowing problems following a stroke. Communication impairments may affect the ability to speak, and / or the ability to understand and express language. In addition to communication impairments, an individual may also have cognitive and swallowing impairments.

  • An individual’s ability to speak clearly and fluently can be caused by a variety of speech disorders resulting from a stroke. These include:
    • Apraxia of Speech: A motor speech disorder that makes it difficult to initiate speech due to discoordination. A person with Apraxia may experience difficulty producing desired sounds / words, difficulty with imitating sounds / words, and be able to speak consistently.
    • Dysarthria: A motor speech disorder that causes slurred speech due to muscle weakness. A person with Dysarthria may have slurred speech, be difficult to understand, speak slowly or too quickly, experience vocal changes, have difficulty with moving lips / tongue / jaw and with coordinating breathing / speaking.
    • Fluency / Stuttering: May result from a stroke causing dysfluencies in speech, repetitions of words and prolongations.
    • Voice: A person may experience vocal changes following a stroke causing the voice to sound more breathy, hoarse or weak. These changes could be related to Dysarthria or vocal fold paralysis.
  • A person’s ability to understand and express language can be affected due to language disorders. These include:
    • Receptive Aphasia: A language disorder that affects the ability to comprehend language. There are different types of Receptive Aphasias and the severity of the impairment depends on the depth of brain damage. However, in general, an individual whose receptive language is affected may have difficulties with understanding spoken / written language, following simple directions, identifying words / pictures, difficulties with written instructions or reading comprehension.
    • Expressive Aphasia: A language disorder that affects the ability to speak and express language. There are different types of Aphasias that can affect the ability to communicate. These may include difficulties with naming objects / pictures, producing grammatically correct sentences, repeating words / phrases or speaking in short phrases.
    • The ability to read and write can also be affected by Aphasia.
  • An individual who has had a stroke may have difficulties with eating and drinking. This is known as Dysphagia.
    • Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that can be caused by a stroke. An individual with Dysphagia may suffer from weakness of the oral muscles (lips, tongue, jaw) and experience difficulties with chewing food and / or clearing it out of the mouth. Additionally, people may experience frequent coughing and choking while eating and drinking due to weakness of the throat muscles. This can lead to other serious medical conditions including dehydration, malnutrition and Pneumonia, if untreated.
  • An individual may experience cognitive changes unrelated to language impairments following a stroke. Depending on the type of stroke and the areas affected, the following areas of cognition may become impaired:
    • Problem Solving / Reasoning
    • Memory
    • Attention
    • Executive Functioning
    • Orientation

At Q Enrichment Center, our Speech, Language and Swallowing Pathologist will conduct an extensive, comprehensive assessment to determine the type of difficulty, the severity, as well as the diagnosis. A detailed report will be completed, along with a treatment plan specific to each individual’s needs. Recommendations for the safest diet may be made in order to avoid any further health complications.