A stroke is the leading cause of disability in many countries. Though it attacks the brain, but there is a chance for the whole body is affected. For instance, a severe case of stroke that affect the brain stem can be potential to cause a locked-in syndrome (a condition when sufferer is very poor in using and controlling the movements of their body – even sufferer may only be able to move their eyes). Sometime stroke can affect the patient’s ability to communicate and speak – particularly true if the left-brain is affected. The prognosis for speech to return after a stroke can vary from patient to patient.
People with stroke can have difficulty with articulation ‘dysarthria’ or difficulty with language ‘aphasia’. While many patients have only dysarthria or aphasia, some can have both speaking problems.
People with aphasia may have trouble in saying phrase or more than one word at a time, choosing the right word to express what they want to say, or even trouble in speaking at all. And for those with dysarthria, they cannot speak properly because a problem has affected the muscles that they use to talk.
Language impairments affect about one-fourth of all cases of stroke, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This problem can include the decreased ability to write, speak, and difficulty in understanding spoken & written language.
Left-side brain is the dominant centers for language. Therefore, people with left-brain damage in stroke are more likely to have more severe speech and language problem.
Most patients with left-brain injury due to stroke have aphasia with some degrees. This problem manifests itself in some different mechanisms and ways in different sufferers.
While in severe case people with aphasia cannot speak at all, mild aphasia may only cause fluent aphasia. If you have this kind of aphasia, you may still be able to say more than 1 words or even a sentence at a time, but your interlocutors may still be difficult to understand the words that you say because what you say may not make sense.
And people with fluent aphasia often don’t realize that they are not making sense. And depending on how severe the injury that affects the brain, aphasia due to stroke can be a complex problem.
As mentioned before, dysarthria can occur when there is a problem with the muscles that help you to say a word and talk.
The problem can be a paralysis or weakness of muscles in the throat, neck, mouth, or even weakness of some muscles in the face. And stroke is one of the common causes of dysarthria. Other causes include traumatic brain injury, dementia, and brain tumor.
Dysarthria can cause a decreased voice quality, slurring of words, or labored speech. The weakness of muscles in the face may also cause dropping /drooling of one side of the patient’s face.
Moreover, dysarthria may also cause a problem in moving tongue, lips, or even jaw. Sometime it is also followed with difficulty swallowing or/and difficulty chewing.
The severity of brain damage and where the damage occurs (whether it occurs in left or right brain) can significantly affect the prognosis of how long for speech to return after a stroke.
Patients with left-brain damage of stroke are more likely to have severe speech and language problem than others with right-brain damage – as noted before.