Has your loved one recently been diagnosed with aphasia as a result of a stroke or brain injury? Are they about to be discharged from the hospital, leaving you with the important decision of whether they should recover at home, or spend some time in a short term rehabilitation facility? If so, read on to learn why a short term rehab facility is a must for sufferers of aphasia.
Prompt Treatment Is Essential To Recovery
Immediately after sustaining an injury, the brain goes into a state of rapid healing. During this time, aphasia sufferers have better responses to speech and language therapy, and sometimes even spontaneously recover some of the abilities they have lost.
Between 6 and 12 months after sustaining injury, though, between 40 and 60 percent of aphasia sufferers can expect their condition to move from acute to chronic, at which time treatment becomes much more difficult. In the past, it was thought that aphasia sufferers would see no more improvement once their condition reached the chronic stage. However, new research shows that improvement is possible for chronic aphasia sufferers, but only if treatment is administered in intense bouts, several times a week.
Aphasia Manifests Differently In Each Person
Aphasia encompasses a wide range of symptoms, and the degree to which a person exhibits each symptom varies depending on the location and severity of their brain injury.
One aphasia sufferer may understand language perfectly well, but not be able to produce the correct words they need to communicate. Another sufferer might be able to speak in long, drawn-out sentences, yet not be able to comprehend words that are spoken to them. Still other suffers may find themselves able to read a novel with little effort, or able to write their thoughts out fluently, while still being unable to retrieve the words they wish to speak from their minds or understand the meaning of spoken language.
Because aphasia affects each person differently, there are no guidelines to tell you exactly how to best help your loved one to recover. Instead, your loved one should be cared for by professionals that understand the many manifestations of the condition, and are willing to adjust the rehabilitation program as they become more familiar with your loved one's particular symptoms.
Multiple Types Of Therapy May Be Necessary
Although speech and language are the primary abilities disrupted by aphasia, they aren't the only aspects of the condition you'll need to worry about if you plan to care for your loved one at home following their brain injury.
The same area of the brain that controls speech and language also controls body movement. Because of this, those with aphasia also often experience weakness or paralysis of other parts of their body. Even if it is not evident at first, there is a chance that your loved one may find it difficult to perform their daily activities at home; it's best that they spend a period of time with professionals who are trained in fall prevention until the full extent of their symptoms are determined.
Short term rehabilitation facilities place patients in environments that simulate their at-home life. If muscle weakness is detected during these simulation exercises, physical therapy will be administered in conjunction with speech and/or language therapy. By recognizing and catering to these additional symptoms of aphasia, the short term care facility will ensure that your friend or family member is completely comfortable with their abilities before going home.
There's also a good chance that your loved one will need treatment to combat depression. In one study, 70 percent of aphasia sufferers were diagnosed with depression 3 months after their brain injury. At 12 months after surgery, 62 percent of study participants were found to be depressed. People are social creatures and when they lose all or part of their ability to communicate efficiently, it has lasting emotional effects. The emotional health of your loved one will be monitored at a short term rehabilitation facility, and treatment options will be discussed at the first sign of depression.
If you're wondering whether or not your loved one should enter a short term rehabilitation program before coming home after their brain injury, the answer is yes, they absolutely should. Immediate, customized-to-patient care and close monitoring of their condition is essential in helping your loved one to recover as much of the abilities they have lost as possible.