Improving Communications After Stroke

Note: This list encompasses strategies as a general guideline to achieve an effective communication between family members and stroke survivors. It does not meant to substitute the management for communication difficulties by the speech-language pathologists. Family members are advised to consult the speech-language pathologists for specific assessments and management of communication disorders for a specific therapy input.

Introduction

Communication difficulties are among the common challenges faced by the stroke patients. Having difficulties to understand or express needs will often lead to frustration and feeling insufficient. They may withdraw or limit themselves from engaging in communication.
Below are some strategies to facilitate the stroke patients to achieve an effective communication:

To facilitate understanding:

  1. Use short sentences and slow rate of speech. Make sure to use natural tone of voice.
  2. Highlight your message by stressing the key words. Incorporate gestures / pointing / body language to the key words too.
  3. If they have difficulty in topic transition, direct them to the new topic or content, before resuming the conversation.

To facilitate expression:

  1. Encourage patients to use gestures / writing / pointing when verbal communication is difficult.
  2. Allow patients time to express themselves, either verbally or non-verbally. Do not speak for them or complete their sentences unless they request for help.
  3.  If you need to affirm your understanding to the message, rephrase the message.
  4. Encourage patients to communicate their needs by offering choices.
  5. If patient has great difficulties in expressing themselves verbally, consider an access to pictures that represent their daily needs, including on how you expect them to communicate when he is in pain or need specific attention.

Avoid communicating or treating the patients like a child. Do keep them in social activities and encourage their participation in daily conversation and decision making process, especially when it is related to the patients himself.