Help for Communication
Belinda at Neuro SLP has 32 years’ experience assessing and managing a broad range communication problems related to neurological injury or illness. Belinda uses current research evidence to tailor assessment and treatment to the needs of each person so that communication becomes more effective and the person is able to participate in communication activities to the best of their abilities. Treatment may involve helping the person improve specific areas of communication (e.g. finding words; making speech sounds clearer, improving voice production), compensate for difficulties experienced with communication (e.g. using other ways to get a message across), or by using alternative means of communication (e.g. a life story book, communication book, or device such as an iPad to communicate). Belinda uses computer-based therapy and iPad apps as part of therapy when appropriate. Telehealth is also available – Belinda can do your assessment and therapy using Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. Telehealth can be useful for people living in rural or remote areas who can’t access a Speech Pathologist, or to provide a some extra therapy.
Keep reading to find out more about the kinds of communication problems that can be cause by a neurological injury or illness.
Aphasia is a problem understanding and/or using language to communicate. It can be caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, surgery to the brain, or illnesses that effect the language centres of the brain. Aphasia does not affect intelligence.
Aphasia can affect understanding, speaking, reading, writing, and numbers. Aphasia can make everyday communication very challenging.
Aphasia varies for everyone. Some people have more trouble speaking but can understand really well; others can’t read the newspaper but can read brief emails.
There are many treatments available for aphasia. Improvement can happen, even after many years of having aphasia.
Find out more about aphasia here.
Dysarthria is a motor speech difficulty caused by weakness, incoordination, reduced rate or reduced range of movements of the lips, tongue, jaw, and voice box (larynx). Breathing may also be affected. Speech may sound slurry, too fast, too slow, or too soft. As a result, speech becomes difficult to understand.
Dysarthria can lead to difficulties participating in everyday communication activities, like being understood on the phone or in background noise.
Find out more about dysarthria here.
Apraxia of Speech
Apraxia of speech is a motor speech difficulty, leading to trouble finding and using motor plans involved in speaking. It can feel like not knowing where to put your lips, tongue or jaw or in order to produce speech sounds to form words. As a result, words may be hard to say, or words might not sound like they used to before apraxia.
Apraxia of speech is not due to muscle weakness or incoordination, like dysarthria. It can impact on someone’s ability to participate in everyday communication.
Apraxia of speech can be caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, surgery to the brain, or illnesses that effect the motor speech centres of the brain.
Find out more about apraxia of speech here.
Problems with cognitive skills such as thinking, problem solving, reasoning and memory can lead to trouble communicating.
Traumatic brain injury and dementia are two examples of neurological problems that may lead to cognitive-communication difficulties. People with stroke and aphasia can sometimes also have cognitive-communication problems.
There are many signs that cognitive problems are having an impact on communication. Some of them are:
- Having trouble structuring what you say
- Trouble keeping track during conversation
- Difficulty remembering an event to talk about it later
- An inability to stick to the topic of conversation
- Problems with saying too much or too little in conversation
Find out more about cognitive-communication problems here.