Acquired and progressive neurological conditions

Acquired and progressive neurological conditions

A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) plays an important role in supporting communication and swallow function in people diagnosed with various neurological conditions (from changes to the brain).

Communication involves thinking and social skills
Communication involves thinking and social skills

These can be progressive and change over time, such as Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease (PD) or Dementia, or the they can be non-progressive for example Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The SLT is involved in supporting people with neurological conditions, with the aim to improve and augment speech, language, communication and swallowing skills, in order to enhance the overall quality of life for people with neurological conditions and their families.

How is communication impacted in people with neurological conditions?

How is communication impacted in people with neurological conditions?

Communication is a two way process. It involves expression (message out) speaking, writing & gesture. It also involves comprehension (message in), understanding spoken & written information

Neurological conditions can impact people differently can result in a wide range of medical, physical, sensory, cognitive and communication difficulties.

Common symptoms that an SLT can help with include:

  • Dysarthria: changes in a person’s speech and/or voice. It is caused by weakness, slowness, or lack of coordination in the muscles of the mouth, voice, and lungs. It can range from very mild to very severe, and almost complete loss of speech for some people
  • Dysphonia:  changes in a person’s voice, often known as hoarseness. It may cause the voice to involuntarily sound raspy, strained, softer in volume or different in pitch. 
  • Dysphagia: a difficulty with swallowing food and/or drink
  • Aphasia (Dysphasia): or Language Difficulties - any difficulty in a person’s use or understanding of language, either in verbal or written form. It may impact on a person's ability to speak, understand, read or write.
  • Social communication skills: depending on the area of the brain affected people can experience changes in their personality or certain traits might be more exaggerated than before, this can include lacking initiation, irritability or aggression, or disinhibition saying or doing inappropriate things.
  • Cognitive-communication skills: changes in a person’s thinking skills can also impact upon their communication skills, for example attention, memory, information processing, reasoning, and executive functioning. Often the SLT works jointly within a team with an Occupational Therapist or Psychologist to support people with these difficulties.

A Speech and Language Therapist can work with people to determine how Technology can be used to support communication. The term often used is Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC). It can vary from using a simple piece of equipment for example, a voice amplifier to using a more complex communication system with many functions. Special communication software can be installed on smartphones, tablets or on a specialised electronic communication device. For example, there is software that allows you:

  • To type messages as you think of what you want to say in conversation.
  • To select from lists of pre-saved, frequently-used messages so that you do not need to retype them each time you use them. This can make communication faster.

Read about acquired and progressive neurological conditions

Parkinson's Disease

Working with a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) is a positive step towards maximising your quality of life and living well with Parkinson’s Disease.

Progressive Neurological Conditions

Supporting communication and swallowing of individuals with a range of neurological conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease, Dementia or Multiple Sclerosis.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

Speech and language therapists assist children, adults and their families who are living with the impacts of acquired brain injury to set and work towards their best rehabilitation outcomes and to improve their quality of life.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Children and adults who for a number of reasons require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.


A stroke occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off. This can be caused by a blood clot or a burst blood vessel.


Aphasia is an acquired language difficulty that affects a person's ability to understand and/or use words, sentences and conversation

Acquired Motor Speech Disorders

Motor Speech Disorders (MSD) are a group of speech and voice disorders that occur as a result of damage to the brain or other parts of the nervous system.

Multiple Sclerosis

Working with an SLT is a positive step towards helping manage symptoms of MS & maximise confidence, well-being & quality of life

Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

A Speech and Language Therapist helps people to address and compensate for communication changes; which can range from very mild to severe.