In celebration of the month of May: Better Speech and Hearing Month, Stroke Awareness Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month.
SLPs play a vital role in stroke recovery.
Following a stroke or brain injury, clients work with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to support an array of speech, language, and cognitive or thinking deficits. Clients may have trouble finding the right words, engaging in or maintaining a conversation, paying attention, or remembering information. Stroke survivors report that these cognitive-communication difficulties can feel very frustrating and isolating. As part of the rehabilitation team, SLPs need to be on the look out for changes in a client’s mood and demeanor.
Mental health issues and mood disorders are common following a brain injury.
Given the change in the brain mechanism and new limitations in functional independence, many stroke survivors will experience mood disorders. Common mood disorders are depression, anxiety, and pseudo-bulbar affect (American Stroke Association, 2018). Post-injury psychiatric problems can negatively impact a stroke survivor’s adjustment to their disability, independence, community reintegration, and overall outcomes (Brain Injury Association of America, 2017). Mental health issues can have a lasting impact on a client’s relationships and impact caregiver burden.
Mindfulness therapy is one way to support stroke survivors and their caregivers.
Mindfulness therapy helps those who suffer from depression and chronic unhappiness to develop new relationships with their mental states (American Stroke Association, 2018). Mindfulness practices have been used with clients to reduce mental stress and increase focus. A calm mind sets the foundation for better learning and stronger coping skills. Deep breathing or mindful meditation also assist caregivers in managing their own stress and anxiety (Seal, 2020). Incorporating mindfulness practices in daily life can help clients and caregivers develop a calm mind, maintain a healthy perspective, improve well-being, and ultimately have a positive impact on the survivor’s rehabilitation and recovery journey.
So, what can you do to help?
1. Check in frequently on your loved one recovering from a stroke and monitor any mood changes.
2. Encourage your loved one to seek guidance from a mental health professional if you notice any mood changes.
3. Consider incorporating simple mindfulness meditation practices such as mindful breathing and body scans into your day. Check out Loveyourbrain.com for free meditation and yoga videos for individuals with brain injuries.
4. Find professionals who provide holistic therapy that focuses on the client’s quality of life and well-being.
5. Share this post to spread awareness of mental health issues following a stroke or brain injury.
American Stroke Association (2018, Nov. 21). Post stroke mood disorders. https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/effects-of-stroke/emotional-effects-of-stroke/post-stroke-mood-disorders
Brain Injury Association of America (2017). The essential brain injury guide (5th Edition, Revised). Brain Injury Association of America.
Seale, G. (2020, Mar.). Best practices for managing stress and anxiety during times of uncertainty. Brain Injury Association of America. https://www.biausa.org/public-affairs/media/best-practices-for-managing-stress-and-anxiety-during-times-of-uncertainty
Jenny Traver, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS
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