WHAT IS A STROKE?
Find our more about ischaemic strokes
There are two different types of stroke: an infarct (blockage to a blood vessel in the brain, aka an ischaemic stroke) or haemorrhage (where a blood vessel in the brain has burst, aka a haemorrhagic stroke).
Did you know...the left side of your brain works the right side of your body and the right side of your brain works the left side of your body? So, if you were to have a left hemisphere stroke, it may result in you experiencing right sided weakness.
Find our more about haemorrhagic strokes
What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is the medical term for a language and communication impairment after a brain injury. You could have:
This is where people have difficulty understanding someone when they talk (auditory comprehension) or understanding something that's written (written comprehension).
This is where people may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally or in writing. This may come in varying degrees, where some may not be able to express themselves at all to others who may have mild word finding difficulties. A lot of people describe this as "I know what I want to say but I can't get it out!".
The simplest way to understand aphasia is to think of your brain as a filing cabinet and all your words are filled neatly away in that cabinet. When we speak we are pulling out the files at the speed of light, allowing us to speak fluently. When your brain is damaged, it is like someone coming to your filing cabinet and going "whoosh" with the paperwork. So now, it's difficult to find the words, or you may say the wrong word e.g. dog for cat or he instead of she = expressive aphasia.
Learn more about Aphasia
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. This can happen after a neurological event and may present in a number of different ways.
We have 4 different stages when swallowing, which are:
Preparatory stage: where we prepare our food, cut it up, bring the food/drink to our mouth
Issues which may occur at this stage may be due to physical changes such as limb weakness, making it difficult to cut up food; visual changes such as hemianopia, so you may miss food on one side of the plate; cognitive changes, where you may be easily distracted or become impulsive, which may put you at risk when eating/drinking.
Oral stage: where you hold the food/drink in your mouth, chew the food, move the food/drink to the back of the mouth to initiate the swallow
Issues which may occur at this stage may be due to lip weakness where food or drink may spill out from the mouth, difficulty chewing food, difficulty moving food/drink to the back of the mouth or food or drink moving too quickly to the back of the mouth causing you to cough
Pharyngeal stage: where the food enters the pharynx (throat) and moves in to the oesophagus (food pipe)
Issues which may occur at this stage may be due to a delayed swallow meaning food or drink may travel into the throat before the swallow has been initiated and then enter the airways, which will usually cause you to cough; weak muscles making it difficult to move the food and drink fully into the food pipe causing residue in your throat
Oesophageal stage: this is where the food/drink travels down your food pipe and into the stomach. SLTs do not manage this stage of the swallow.
In order to manage your swallowing difficulties, the speech and language therapist may have to recommend using certain equipment, trialling different textures of food or adding a thickening powder to your drink.
Learn more about DYSPHAGia
A charity which runs different support/communication groups and provides good general advice about Stroke.
A UK-wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury by providing vital support and information services
International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative.
Useful if you are experiencing swallowing difficulties and want to learn more about the different consistencies.