Every May we recognize both National Stroke Awareness Month and Better Speech and Hearing Month. For many who have experienced a stroke, the connection between the two is clear — difficulty communicating affects around one-third of all stroke survivors. Don South is one of them.
Following a stroke in February 2021, Don experienced a severe communication impairment called expressive aphasia, that makes it very difficult to produce speech. After spending over a year working with Monument Health Custer Hospital Speech Therapist Nancy Suelflow, MS, CCC-SLP, Don is communicating much more effectively.
“On our first visit, he could only say maybe two or three words,” explains Nancy. “So we started right in, working with every possible cueing method that I could come up with.” Cueing is a method to elicit specific words, and speech therapists are taught a number of techniques. Nancy used all of them to help Don. “Now he’s self-cueing and can put together sentences. He can tell me about reading nursery rhymes to his grandchildren, or taking a phone message for his wife. These are communication successes.”
Nancy says that part of Don’s success is due to how hard he works, and that he and his wife carry over the lessons and practice at home. In regards to his progress, Don says, “Nancy is a good teacher. Custer is lucky to have her.”
“There are over 700,000 strokes in a year,” Don adds. “People should know what to do if they spot the signs.” When someone has a stroke, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. One way to know what to look for is to remember B.E. F.A.S.T.:
- Balance (loss of balance)
- Eyes (loss of vision)
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911