Stroke: Speech and Language Problems

Overview

Some people have speech and language problems after a stroke. Their ability to speak, read, or write may be affected. Also, they may not be able to understand what someone else is saying.

Trouble communicating can be very frustrating. When you talk to someone who's had a stroke, be understanding and supportive. You might get helpful tips from their stroke rehab team. Here are some examples.

  • Speak directly to the person.
    • Don't address your questions to a companion, even if that person is an interpreter.
    • Speak in second person, not third person: "How are you feeling today?" not "How is he feeling today?"
  • Speak slowly and simply in a normal tone of voice.

    Most people who have speech and language problems aren't deaf.

  • Be a good listener.
    • Maintain eye contact.
    • Listen carefully.
    • Ask the person to rephrase or repeat something if you don't understand.
  • Be patient.
    • Give the person enough time to respond.
    • Don't fill in with a word or sentence unless you are asked.
  • Focus on what the person is saying, not how they're saying it.

    Put the person first, not the impairment.

  • Limit conversations to small groups or one-on-one.

    Large group conversations may be hard for the person to follow.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: March 28, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Richard D. Zorowitz MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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