Personalized Speech Therapy Program Helps Stroke Survivor Regain Voice
Many people think of speech therapy as mainly for children with speech delays and disorders, but it can also help adults with acute communications problems. That was the case for Lois Grissom of Rock Island, Illinois. After she had two strokes in the course of two weeks, she was unable to speak or write at all—a condition known as global aphasia, and one that is common in stroke survivors. Her concerned husband Gary arranged for her to have therapy with Speech Language Pathologist Kylie Lucas.
Kylie created a personalized speech therapy program for Lois that produced measurable results right away. The first thing they worked on together was syllables and vowel sounds before moving on to more complex words and sentences.
Lois is fortunate to have received such prompt therapy. According to aphasia.org, if symptoms of global aphasia last more than two or three months after a stroke, a complete recovery is unlikely. But slower recovery is still possible, and progress can still be made for many years afterward. That’s good news for the nearly 800,000 people in the United States every year who have a stroke. Though almost 130,000 of those are fatal, that still leaves about 665,000 survivors. Of those, 25-40% will acquire aphasia.
This is especially relevant, considering the national shortage of qualified speech language pathologists specializing in stroke therapy. In geographic areas where a specially trained therapist is unavailable or overbooked, teletherapy would be an ideal solution for stroke survivors like Lois who need to get help fast. Therapies can be customized for patients who only have trouble communicating, or who have problems swallowing or understanding words said to them as well.
Lois is now able to speak, but still needs more therapy to make a full recovery. Between visits to Kylie, she uses an app on her tablet that helps her practice her therapy routine.
If someone you know is experiencing aphasia, here are a few apps that can help them practice between therapy or teletherapy sessions:
Proloquo2Go is an app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch known as an Augmentive and Alternative Communication app. By tapping on pictures and symbols, the app provides a voice for those with aphasia.
Constant Therapy helps patients with stroke, learning disabilities or traumatic brain injury with customized personalized exercises. There are currently 58 task categories and more than 12,000 exercises.
Lingraphica offers three different dedicated, research-backed communication devices for adults with aphasia. There are two tablet-based models called the MiniTalk and the Touchtalk that make it easy for patients to live a more mobile lifestyle and communicate on the go. The laptop model is called AllTalk, and can also come with EyeGaze software for patients who need a hands-free way to communicate.
Finally, SmallTalk is a set of apps that help patients practice speech and communications on their phones. Beyond the communication devices, patients can use the TalkPath Therapy platform on the Lingraphica website or from a dedicated app. It has more than 11,500 exercises and a news source just for adults with aphasia.