SPEECH AFTER STROKE

Speech does not just happen. It depends on the coordinated interactions of five components essential for normal speech production.

Respiration   Phonation   Resonance   Articulation   Prosody

Each of these components must work together and be combined smoothly in order for speech to sound normal. When any of these are disturbed by a neurological event such as a stroke, it can result in speech disorders referred to as dysarthria or apraxia.  Another type of communication problem which can occur after a stroke may affect expression and/or comprehension of language.  This is called aphasia.

Dysarthria

Speaking may be difficult as a result of general muscle weakness, reduced range of movement or reduced muscle steadiness.  The overall quality of speaking may therefore be reduced, making it difficult for others to understand.

Apraxia

Apraxia of speech following a neurological onset, results in being unable to coordinate and accurately sequence movements to produce sounds.  The speaker typically struggles to find the correct positioning of a sound or word even when they feel like it is at the tip of their tongue. The pattern of errors is usually inconsistent. Individuals with apraxia usually become very frustrated while trying to speak.

Aphasia

This is a language disorder which may occur after a stroke.  The ability to understand others, verbal expression, reading and writing, are all areas of language which may be suddenly affected, to varying degrees.

The sudden loss of language and difficulty communicating can have a devastating impact on the individual and loved ones. Consultation, assessment and treatment strategies may be beneficial to the individual and family members to facilitate recovery and improvement of communication ability.