A stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or becomes clogged with a blood clot. The effects of a stroke can range from mild to severe. One of the biggest effects is on the individual’s ability to communicate after the stroke. The three most prominent effects that a Speech-Language Therapist deals with include: Aphasia, Apraxia, and Dysarthria.
Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the language areas of the brain. This means that the stroke most likely occurred in the left hemisphere of the brain. Aphasia can disrupt receptive language, expressive language, or both. Receptive language is the ability to understand what is being said or to understand what one is reading. Expressive language is the ability to express one’s thoughts and feelings through speech or through writing.
Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that is caused by damage to the parts of the nervous system that are related to speaking. It is characterised by problems sequencing the sounds in syllables and words. People with Apraxia know what words they want to say, but their brains have difficulty co-ordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words and they may say something different and even non-sensical.
Dysarthria is a speech disorder that is due to a weakness or incoordination of the speech muscles. People with Dysarthria will have slow, weak, imprecise or uncoordinated speech. Their speech often sounds effortful and depending on severity, unintelligible. Drooling is also a common occurrence in those with Dysarthria.
If you suspect that someone you are caring for has any of these conditions with their communication, it is important that they be referred for assessment by a Speech-Language Therapist. Once the individual is attended to and receives therapy, these conditions can improve.
Apart from trouble speaking or understanding, other warning signs to look out for that indicates a stroke may be occurring include: headaches; dizziness; loss of balance; difficulty walking; sudden confusion; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body only.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Samantha de Freitas
Speech and Language Therapist
Samantha de Freitas is a Speech and Language Therapist qualified at UCT in 2012. Currently she specialises in AAC[/fullwidth_text]
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a motor speech problem that is not a normal part of a child’s development. This means that stuttering is NOT caused by:
- bad parenting
- low intelligence or IQ
The exact cause of stuttering is unknown. There is a genetic link in some cases. The ratio of boys to girls is 3:1 and this disproportion increases with age. Most school aged children (up to 82%) are teased about their stuttering.
Stuttering behaviours include:
- Repetition – of sounds (c-c-c-cat), syllables (ca-ca-ca-cat), words (cat-cat- cat-cat) or phrases (the cat, the cat, the cat jumped).
- Prolongation – of sounds (e.g. m➙y).
- Inappropriate pauses – between sounds or words.
- Blocking – getting stuck on sounds and nothing comes out.
Body and facial movements may accompany these stuttering behaviours such as eye blinking, facial twitches, and body tension.
How can parents help?
- Most importantly, contact a Speech Pathologist.
- Acknowledge that your child is stuttering and reassure your child that he or she is doing nothing wrong.
- Listen to what your child is saying rather than how it is said. This shows your child that you enjoy talking to them and are interested in what they are saying.
- Be consistent when using speaking rules, e.g. everyone in the family is to try not to interrupt when someone is talking.
- Reduce the pressure on your child when he or she is speaking – don’t put them on the spot.
Early intervention has the best evidence for treatment outcomes for children who stutter, with the best age for treatment being 4-5 years of age. Stuttering can be treated at other stages of the life-span but often with longer treatment times and more complex treatments than for preschool children. See a Speech Pathologist for information and advice.[/spb_text_block] [spb_text_block pb_margin_bottom=”no” pb_border_bottom=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Samantha de Freitas
Speech and Language Therapist
Samantha de Freitas is a Speech and Language Therapist qualified at UCT in 2012. Currently she specialises in AAC[/spb_text_block]
Voice is the sound that is created by people by using their lungs and vocal folds in the voice box, but how does it work? The vocal folds are two bands of smooth muscle tissue that lie opposite each other in the larynx or voice box. The larynx is positioned at the passageway to the lungs. When at rest, the vocal folds are open to allow an individual to breathe. Once the folds are closed, air from the lungs passes through them, causing vibration and therefore produces sound. The sound from this vibration then travels through the throat, nose, and mouth creating voice.
It is important to take care of our voices, as we use it every day to communicate with others at home, work and at social gatherings. There are many things that we do that can place ourselves at risk for developing a voice problem such as:
- Using your voice too much such as shouting for long periods or talking for a long period without taking a break
- Excessive stress
- Excessive coughing and throat clearing
- Speaking on an already sore throat
- Unhealthy eating that could cause reflux otherwise known as ‘heartburn’
- Not drinking enough water
- Chronic asthma or allergies
- Irritants e.g. dryness of the air
What can you do to take care of your voice?
- HYDRATION: drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day
- DIETARY: reducing the intake of caffeine; chocolate; citrus; alcohol; cooldrinks; acidic, spicy and fatty foods
- IRRITANTS: reduce or stop smoking; limit dust and chemical exposure
- VOCAL MISUSE AND ABUSE: do not shout or strain your voice; rest your voice
Contact your health care provider if you have any concerns about heart burn; hoarseness; shortness of breath; voice fatigue; pain, discomfort or dryness of the throat, which are often symptoms of a voice disorder.
Please contact us for more information on voice, voice disorders and vocal hygiene.