“But I talk just fine” (November)

The months following stroke can be a whirlwind. With so many decisions the process becomes nearly impossible to navigate. I wish I had the answer to every question but the simple answer is I don’t. What I do have the unique opportunity to make one small part of recovery a bit easier for you and your loved ones.

The brain is the epicenter for what makes us human. It controls our ability to talk, see, think, hear, remember, walk, and experience emotions. After a stroke many of these functions can be disrupted. Did you know a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) can be an important partner in restoring these? In each installment of our newsletter we will take a look at one way a SLP can help improve life after stroke.

Here are 5 actions you can take to ensure you or your loved one get the care they need from an SLP:

1) Ask for a SLP evaluation during the first few days at the hospital.

This should cover swallowing, language, and cognitive function (ex: memory, concentration, etc). If possible, have a friend or family member available during the evaluation to provide background information to the SLP.

2) Sometimes a swallowing evaluation will result in a diet change. In more extreme cases, they may suggest you or your loved one have a feeding tube instead of eating/drinking by mouth. Request an instrumental evaluation be completed. This may be a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) and is critical to swallowing recovery. You wouldn’t let a doctor cast your leg without an X-ray, would you?

3) Keep a short daily journal of improvements and concerns. This will help to track progress, recall details between days, and have questions prepared when a doctor stops by the room.

4) Do your best to maintain a consistent routine. Whether at home or somewhere like a skilled nursing facility, try your best to stay consistent with times you sleep, wake, exercise etc. This goes for caregivers too! This can help to minimize emotional and sleep dysfunction after stroke.

5) Have glasses and hearing aids (with extra batteries) available in room. If in a facility, consider posting a sign above the bed reminding staff to make sure you or your loved ones have these on daily, giving every possible advantage in communication.

Check back each month as we help break down an overwhelming process piece by piece in our newsletter.

Special requests or questions? Email me today.

Mary Burns, MS, CCC-SLP has been working as a medical Speech-Language Pathologist since 2014. She specializes in working with adults with swallowing or communication disorders, especially after a stroke.

Working across the continuum of care gave Mary a unique perspective on strengths and needs in the rehabilitation system. This developed her passion for advocacy of person-centered care and the inclusion of patient and community education as a part of the recovery process.

Mary was drawn to Stroke Awareness Oregon because of their dedication to breaking down barriers that allow stroke survivors and their loved ones to access the services they need.  She can be reached at contact@overlandslp.com