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Communication difficulties are often caused by a stroke and include:
You may also experience communication difficulties as a result of fatigue or brain fog, which can be caused by Long Covid as well as other conditions. Breathlessness can also make it difficult to speak clearly, and vision issues can make it difficult to read or write.
Aphasia is a common effect of stroke, affecting around one in three people who have had a stroke.
Aphasia means that a part of your brain which controls language has been damaged. There are two main parts of the brain which may be affected:
Either or both of these parts of the brain may be affected by a stroke or head injury.
People with aphasia may find that they:
In extreme cases, people with aphasia may be unable to speak at all.
Some people who speak more than one language find that aphasia only affects one language, or affects one language more than others.
People with aphasia may not be aware that what they say is not what they mean to say.
When Tom suffered a devastating stroke, he and his wife Karen were told that he might be “locked in” forever.
“It was terrifying to think I wouldn’t be able to move, speak or communicate in any way at all. I have never been so scared, but thankfully I am not locked in completely,” writes Tom.
“I have aphasia and verbal dyspraxia, which means I can’t put my muscles in the right position to speak because my brain can no longer send the right message to my mouth. Having both those conditions together means speaking is almost impossible for me.
“Since then, life has been really difficult. It’s been hard to adjust to what our lives are like now.
“But the support Karen and I get from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is hard to put into words. It’s something so very special.
“Every week we join the online aphasia support group set up by Lucy from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. It has been a lifeline for us and is now one of the most important things in our lives.”
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Aphasia can improve over time, especially with support from speech and language therapists. Even if your aphasia does not improve, you can learn other ways to communicate.
Aids like a conversation support book or a communication app may help if you are struggling to find words. These use images or videos to prompt you to find the word you’re looking for. CHSS offers a conversation support book, which you can order.
You may find it easier to communicate in person if you:
If you have a conversation planned, such as a doctor’s appointment or interview, it can help to write down what you may need to say.
If you struggle to speak, writing may be easier. If you struggle to write, but can speak clearly, there are apps available which will take dictation for you.
When reading or writing, look for images near the text which may help you to understand.
If your friend or loved one has aphasia, you can make it easier when communicating with them by:
Always remember that difficulty communicating does not mean difficulty thinking.
Robert’s stroke left him with aphasia and verbal dyspraxia, making communication difficult. But he hasn’t let this stop him.
“I would tell others who are in a similar situation to me to take one day at a time. Be creative and try to have fun with communication. You will discover strengths you didn’t know you had,” says Robert.
“One thing I do want other people to know about me and my condition is that my speech and language impairment does not mean I have other intellectual impairments – help me spread the word! Just give me the chance and allow me to come back to a point later if I’m having difficulty.
“I use drawing, writing, sign and expression and I’m constantly looking for new ways to get my point across. Things like new technology, augmentative and alternative communication apps, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter are all useful aids to me.”
Dysarthria is a physical condition where the muscles of the mouth, throat, or face are not working properly. This is often the result of a stroke, but can also be a result of other problems like: nervous dysfunction, brain injuries, or muscle damage.
People with dysarthria may slur, mumble, or otherwise struggle to speak clearly. This is not a problem with language (as aphasia is), but the physical act of speaking.
If you are struggling with dysarthria, it can be helpful to practice speech exercises with a speech and language therapist. You may have to repeat yourself when speaking.
It can be helpful to use gestures, writing, or small drawings to help you get your point across.
It may also be easier to communicate in writing. Consider asking people whether they can email instead of telephoning, for example, or whether they would like you to write a note.
If you are a business or organisation and you’d like to join us in our efforts to make Scotland’s high streets aphasia aware, please get in touch at email@example.com
You can make sure people with chest, heart or stroke in conditions Scotland get the support they need after returning home from hospital.
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Read our Essential Guides for more information.
Visit our Services page to find out more about the support that’s available to help you live with communication difficulties.
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This page was last updated on June 12, 2023 and is under regular review. If you feel anything is missing or incorrect, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to provide feedback.