We provide communication therapy services for adults with neurological conditions such as stroke, brain injury and Parkinson’s disease.
Aphasia is characterised by an impaired understanding and production of language and is usually the result of damage to the left or "language competent" half of the brain. People with aphasia may find it difficult to
- Participate in a conversation, particularly in a noisy environment
- Comprehend jokes
- Write a letter or use the telephone
- Use money or understand numbers
In terms of neurology, two major areas can account for the specific deficits seen in patients with aphasia:
- A motor speech-language area, or Broca's area
- A sensory speech-language area, or Wernicke's area.
A patient with Broca's aphasia will produce non-fluent, slow and effortful speech, while a patient with Wernicke's aphasia will produce fluent but confused speech.
Aphasia is not considered by most to be a disorder that can be cured, however the overall aim of speech pathology is to increase an individual’s potential to function effectively in their own environment, to facilitate meaningful relationships and restore self-esteem and independence.
Apraxia of speech (AOS) reflects an impaired capacity to plan the movements necessary to direct speech.
A patient with AOS is unable to produce correct articulation and flow of speech, despite having functioning speech musculature. Although the patient has enough muscle strength and coordination to produce the word "hello", they have an impaired ability to plan exactly how to move their lips, tongue and other speech organs in order to produce the word.
The goal of the SLP working with patients with AOS is to maximise effectiveness, efficiency and naturalness of speech. Speech programs may need to be relearned, for example the program that tells us instinctively how to produce the /h/ in hello, in order to restore lost function.
Dysarthria is the term given to a group of disorders that reflect impairment in the actual speech muscles. Unlike AOS, patients with dysarthria can plan their speech output, but due to damaged central or peripheral nerves, no longer have the strength or coordination to execute speech.
As a result of nerve damage, for example cranial nerve damage following a motor vehicle accident, various components of the speech system may become impaired. A patient may experience difficulties in respiration control, articulation, resonance or phonation.