Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Speech recovery can continue for years

I've been convinced that stroke recovery doesn't all happen in the short term - a year or less. In my own  experience with aphasia, it can take years to recover.

Now, I see a Wall Street Journal article about how new therapies help stroke survivors recover language years after injury:
Encouraging new evidence is emerging to suggest the brain’s plasticity, or its ability to change and heal, may last many years after injury—far longer than the commonly assumed plateau for speech recovery of about six months to a year after stroke. Insurers, for example, may only cover the cost of one-on-one speech therapy sessions for the first few months.
“The conventional wisdom has long been that after a year post-stroke, you aren’t going to get any better,” says Cynthia Thompson, director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Language Recovery at Northwestern University. “But the brain continues to change until you die."
Certainly, in my case, rapid change took place in the first few months after my stroke in 1998 - starting with complete lack of speech back to a career in journalism.

But later, even years later, I would catch incremental improvements. Now, I still have some lasting effects (in my opinion) in the speech department, but I refuse to rule out even additional improvements.


J.L. Murphey said...

Jeff, Like you I've made an amazing recovery in regards to my aphasia since my stroke last year, but there are still quite a few deficits to overcome because most of my career, as minster and author, involves speech. There is hope though.

As with the article, I've seen stroke recovery in patients twenty years out from their initial stroke. It is slower and takes a lot of practice to do it but it can be done.

The major draw back after that long of a period is the will to try. After years, you sort of build a sort of nonverbal communication skills that works so why rock the boat is the main consensus. That's a shame.

Jeff Porter said...

One of the most telling comments in the article: “Aphasia is one of the most isolating conditions, but in group treatment people who may have been sitting at home alone for four or five years suddenly find there are other people out there just like them.”