Language Problems After a Stroke

Most common language problems after a stroke


Language difficulties are common in people who've had strokes. Stroke victims may have trouble speaking or understanding speech, a problem known as aphasia.

Aphasia can take many forms:

  • Anomic aphasia: difficulty naming objects or places
  • Conduction aphasia:¬†somewhat normal speech, but the person can't repeat what another person has said
  • Expressive or Broca's aphasia: thoughts can't be expressed at all
  • Fluent aphasia: speech may sound normal, but incorrect words and sounds are substituted
  • Nonfluent aphasia: speech is slow and difficult, and words are often left out
  • Global aphasia: difficulty with all language functions
  • Receptive or Wernicke's aphasia: sounds are heard but not understood

Other common language problems

Other common language difficulties include:

  • speech apraxia: difficulty planning the physical movements necessary for speech
  • dysarthria: difficulty or inability articulating speech
  • writing impairment: which also includes difficulty reading

What you can do to help a stroke victim with language problems

  • Consult a speech therapist. A therapist will help a stroke victim relearn language skills, and she can help you come up with strategies for communicating.
  • Don't yell. Speak in a normal voice.
  • Avoid slang. Use simple words and short sentences.
  • Try using gestures. Point at objects, or make picture cards.
  • "Jump start" his communication. If he's having a hard time remembering a word or phrase, you can sometimes help get his speech going by making the first sound of a word. But first give him some extra time to get the words out.
  • Acknowledge that this is a frustrating and difficult situation for both of you. If you need to take a break, give yourself a short time-out.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Although the person in your care may have a hard time understanding abstract jokes, you can defuse a lot of frustration simply by laughing -- as long as he knows that you're laughing with him, not at him.

Stephanie Trelogan

Stephanie Trelogan writes about heart disease, stroke, and depression issues that concern people caring for their aging parents. See full bio