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Stroke: Speech and Language Problems

Topic Overview

Some people have speech and language problems after a stroke. These problems may involve any or all aspects of language use, such as speaking, reading, writing, and understanding the spoken word. Speech and language problems (aphasia) usually occur when a stroke affects the right side of the body. Trouble communicating can be very frustrating. When you talk to someone who has had a stroke, be patient, understanding, and supportive.

The following are tips for helping someone who has speech and language problems:

  • Speak directly to him or her—not to a companion, even if that person is an interpreter—and speak in second, not third, person: "How are you feeling today?"
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Speak slowly and simply in a normal tone of voice. People who have speech and language problems are not deaf.
  • Give him or her adequate time to respond.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Focus on what the person is saying, not how he or she is saying it.
  • Don't fill in with a word or sentence unless you are asked.
  • Ask the person to rephrase or repeat something if you do not understand.
  • Put the person—not the impairment—first.
  • Limit conversations to small groups or one on one. Large group conversations may be difficult for your loved one to follow.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last Revised June 26, 2013

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