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Stroke: Speech and Language Problems - Topic Overview

Some people have speech and language problems after a stroke. These problems may involve any or all aspects of language use, such as speaking, reading, writing, and understanding the spoken word. Speech and language problems (aphasia) usually occur when a stroke affects the right side of the body. Trouble communicating can be very frustrating. When you talk to someone who has had a stroke, be patient, understanding, and supportive.

The following are tips for helping someone who has speech and language problems:

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  • Speak directly to him or her—not to a companion, even if that person is an interpreter—and speak in second, not third, person: "How are you feeling today?"
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Speak slowly and simply in a normal tone of voice. People who have speech and language problems are not deaf.
  • Give him or her adequate time to respond.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Focus on what the person is saying, not how he or she is saying it.
  • Don't fill in with a word or sentence unless you are asked.
  • Ask the person to rephrase or repeat something if you do not understand.
  • Put the person—not the impairment—first.
  • Limit conversations to small groups or one on one. Large group conversations may be difficult for your loved one to follow.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 26, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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