Updated: Jul 30, 2020
If your loved one has experienced a stroke, brain tumor, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or another neurological disease, it may have impacted their ability to communicate. This experience has lead you here, looking for answers.
The initial evaluation will include testing and it is important that we let the client answer all the questions. It is important to see how the client is currently communicating. Testing determines the client's baseline data, communication strengths and weaknesses, and goals for therapy. The testing is not pass/fail and is used to provide information for the therapist to get an understanding of your loved ones' communication needs. Once testing is completed, treatment can begin.
During the initial evaluation it is important that you and your loved one identify specific goals he/she wants to target over the next few weeks or months. If you don't know what are realistic goals, ask your speech therapist for help. For example, your partner may want to have successful conversations with family.
You may wonder if it is best for you to stay with your partner during their speech therapy session. Usually the answer is yes. You will be able to learn from watching how to best communicate with each other. During sessions the therapist will teach cueing hierarchies for "homework" outside of therapy.
Components of speech therapy include:
Rehabilitation exercises focus on improving and restoring skills that were lost. Compensatory strategies are used to compensate for lost function.
Think of compensatory strategies as a new, more efficient way of doing something. For example, I use reminders on my phone to compensate for my memory. Instead of relying on my memory to do something, my phone alerts me of the reminder.
A large part of speech therapy is dedicated to educating the patient, family, and communication partners. Participation is key. The client and the caregiver must be dedicated to practicing strategies and doing suggested activities outside of therapeutic sessions.
You may wonder why speech therapy does not focus most of its time on rehabilitation. According to the National Stroke Association, 10% of people who experience a stroke recover completely and 25% recover with minor impairments. An additional 40% will experience moderate to severe impairments. These statistics demonstrate why compensatory strategies play such a large role in speech therapy. We want our loved ones to have success and compensatory strategies, in addition to rehabilitation exercises help us to achieve that.
Successful stroke recovery depends on a number of factors including: the amount of damage, how soon treatment is started, motivation/participation, age, and the number of comorbidities.
Re-establishing reliable, functional communication is the first rehabilitation priority after proper medical management to assure that the patient understands the care being provided and the options that may exist, is able to express his or her questions and preferences, and can participate optimally in the rehabilitation program.
Schedule your initial evaluation here.
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