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Four Tools That Improve Communication For Survivors

A nurse facilitates communication with a stroke survivor

Difficult communication can be one of the most frustrating aspects of life after stroke. Many things can be affected, among them the ability to read words, understand pictures, give voice to thoughts, and move hands and fingers to write or type. Here we explain four tools to help compensate for and correct these problems.

1. Communication Board

When patients lose the ability to easily communicate after a stroke, a Communication Board, which contains images of commonly used words and expressions, allows a patient to point to pictures and words on a board in order to better relay what they are trying to say.

2. Smart Tech Apps

Items like the iPad can stimulate cognitive rehabilitation while also providing tools for communication. Access to news, email, and social networks allows survivors to stay connected with friends and family. Apps like Verbally repeat typed sentences or words out loud, while an app like MyTalkTools behaves like a communication board. Another similar app, VoisPal, performs these functions on an Android smart phone.

3. Boogie Board

A Boogie Board is a more environmentally friendly version of a paper and pen. For a survivor capable of communicating through written messages the Boogie Board is an affordable and effective tool. Use the ease-to-grip stylus to jot down notes, then erase them with the push of a button.

4. Voice Control

Patients can continue to use their computers, even without the ability to type. Speech recognition technology allows a user to control their computer with verbal commands. Software like Dragon learns to understand your voice, even through speech impairments.

By: Buckley Ann Kuhn Fricker J.D., GCM, President of Buckley’s For Seniors, LLC

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Quick Tip: Small Talk

For many stroke survivors speech and communication can be one of the most difficult aspects of rehabilitation. Working with a dedicated speech pathologist is a great solution, but diligent practice from home is the best way to speedup recovery.

  • Ask friends and family members to dedicate portions of their day to help you with your speech. This can be as simple as patiently working through a conversation together.
  • Advise caregivers to avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Ask more difficult questions that stimulate the mind to reestablish cognitive pathways. For example; instead of asking, “Do you want a sandwich,” ask, “Do you want a turkey or ham sandwich?” This forces the mind to remember not only the concept of a sandwich, but also the concept for turkey and ham.
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