Aphasia can be one of the more challenging health conditions for patients as well as those around them. The skilled team at Accredited Nursing is available to help you through with the resources you need.
For those unfamiliar with that term, it’s the general description of a disorder in which changes in the brain can impact someone’s ability to speak or write. Causes can vary: strokes are one common reason, but other trauma like tumors or injury can also cause this, as well as degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
The types of aphasia can differ depending on the individual and where the damage to the brain has taken place or is taking place – some people may still be able to understand others but aren’t able to speak, or may be able to speak well but find they no longer can write. Others may insert extra or incorrect words when they speak, or have a harder time than usual coming up with the correct word or phrase for any given situation.
Forms of aphasia can lead to confusion and frustration when patients realize something is different about what and how they’re communicating. Caregivers or family members also may find challenges understanding them or being understood, leading to problems communicating.
More than 1 million Americans are affected by aphasia, according to the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It typically takes place in the left portion of the brain.
While some aphasia conditions are progressive or permanent, nurses and therapists sometimes can work with patients to help re-learn some of these skills or re-route some of the neural pathways that control communication.
For those living in the Hollywood area who have loved ones with aphasia can consider taking them to a therapist or finding an assisted living center that offers these services. But another option, especially if their loved one is capable of living independently, is to find home health care that can include aphasia therapy.
Here are some strategies for finding home health care for aphasia in the region:
Do they offer individualized care?
Someone visiting a patient in a home setting will be able to provide all their attention to one person during the visit. This can be beneficial to the patient. The provider also can make sure that their patient is as relaxed as possible and comfortable in their own environment. While visiting a therapist’s office is always an option, patients will likely feel more comfortable in their own space rather than in a more clinical environment with other patients. A home visit even can include using a patient’s books, magazines or writing supplies to practice reading and writing and help them be even more at ease.
Will they focus on other therapeutic needs as well?
Focusing on the aphasia may seem like the priority, but a good speech therapist may want to do more than work on reading or writing, if that’s the particular condition. He or she may also focus on the mechanics of speaking, such as building up throat muscles that may have stopped working during the stroke or the traumatic event the patient suffered. In addition to aiding in forming words, these muscles can help with swallowing.
What approach do they use?
Within the community of medical professionals who focus on aphasia, there are different schools of thought on desired methods and outcomes. While everyone’s goal is to see some levels of improvement, some approaches focus only on addressing the aphasia while others look for ways to enhance the patient’s overall quality of life, no matter how much improvement is possible. For instance, the “Life Participation Approach,” or LPA, includes a focus on the patient’s long-term goals. Therapists who follow this approach can also work with family members to help everyone figure out new or different methods to communicate and be generally supportive. Making sure family members are a part of the process goes a long way in helping a patient feel more connected at an emotional level.
What words are being taught first?
If someone has to ‘start from the beginning’ with their speech after losing these faculties, it’s hard to know where to begin. Accredited Nursing has experience in many different situations and stand ready to help. Some therapists and other medical providers suggest beginning with critical words and phrases, such as “I need help.” This way, if they do have an emergency, they can ask for assistance. Once this part is mastered they can start building on learning other useful words and concepts, like needs and feelings.
Overall, every patient is different, as well as types of aphasia. Better providers or therapists may not want to make specific promises about what is or isn’t possible as far as a general clinical outcome. But it is equally likely that any improvements in aphasia can lead to improvements in other parts of the patient’s life. For instance, perhaps he or she has been depressed because they haven’t been able to communicate. If the therapist begins to teach them new methods of talking and interacting, this could help with their overall mood and interests.