Unclear and Slurred Speech after a Stroke?- What to do?
Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Ms. Nayantara Nambiar, Speech Language Pathologist, Unified Brain Health Care.
This article is intended for caregivers of people who have had a stroke and those who continue to have unclear speech. Listed below are a set of general strategies that you can implement to help improve the clarity of your stroke survivor’s speech, so that you can understand them better.
· Reduce the background noise (e.g. tv sound, other conversations) when the person is talking. Make sure you have a quiet environment so that you can easily focus on the message that is being conveyed by the stroke survivor.
· Speak slowly. One example you could give them is to tell them to speak like a robot. Explain that it may sound different and unusual and that is okay, as speaking in slow manner would help understand what is being said.
· Exaggerate mouth movements while making sounds. Instruct them to open and move their mouth and tongue more than usual, while they are talking. One way to do this is to practice talking in front of a mirror. Again, this may look strange, but it would help to highlight the different sounds in words.
· Practice with a communication partner. Support them to practice talking using these strategies with someone, who will be their communication partner. This communication partner plays an important role as they can give feedback on how clear or unclear their speech is.
· Use pictures or actions as aids. Allow the person to use pictures (e.g. showing a picture of sleeping) or actions (e.g. doing an action of eating) along with speaking to convey their message across to you. Having some visual input always helps with understanding the message better.
Finally, this is not a direct strategy to improve speech clarity, but one that is equally important, and it involves advocating for speech difficulties. Help convey to others that your stroke-survivor has some difficulty with their speech. You can help others understand that the person needs more time to speak and others need to wait and listen carefully to their message. It is important to not complete their message for them and remind them to use the strategies to improve clarity.
Unified Brain Health Care is one of a kind integrated Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Chennai for adults and children offering in person and online therapy in Cognitive Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Clinical Nutrition, Career Counselling, Fitness Coaching and Educational Intervention. We also offer Family and Marriage Counselling, help for PCOS, care during pregnancy, post-pregnancy care for new moms, infant and early childhood stimulation, infant and young child nutrition, care for caregivers and promote holistic brain health.