Need for Speech: Language Therapy After Stroke

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | 10:04 pm

Each year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC). That it can affect people of any age makes it our business to know more about it. You could just be brushing your teeth or walking to your office when the warning signs would strike—pay attention and recognize them.

Some of the warning signs include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Surviving a stroke is one thing, recovering from its aftermath is another. Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability, from prolonged weakness in parts of the body to developing communication deficits. Communication deficits can range from having difficulty understanding or speaking to slurring your words or having difficulty in programming your oral muscles to produce speech sounds accurately and efficiently. Reading and writing skills which are based on heard and spoken speech sounds may also be affected.

It is very important of anyone who has experienced a stroke with associated communication deficits to be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist asserts Dr. Susan Gray-Holland. Dr. Gray-Holland, based in Pasadena, has been treating children, teens and adults with communication disorders for 20 years. “Some people can have trouble with one thing and not in other. It’s a mixed bag, which is why the evaluation is so important.”

Standardized test protocols and structured informal evaluation determine the patient’s strengths and weaknesses in communication following a stroke. These results drive the anatomy of a treatment plan tailored for each individual.

In addition to individual speech-language therapy, Dr. Gray-Holland recommends computer based interactive therapy programs to supplement and support face-to-face therapy in order to increase the intensity of intervention. The patient can use these supports on a computer or iPad to reinforce therapy goals and provide home treatment throughout the day. The treatment plan may stay in place for a while or, depending on the person’s progress, may need to be updated fairly frequently,” says Dr. Gray-Holland. Early intervention following a stroke is optimal, but with additional intensity of treatment gains in speech and language can be made over many years Dr. Gray-Holland says.

Dr. Susan Gray-Holland is located at 595 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. For more information, call (626)793-8881 or visit

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