What is a Stroke?

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. Strokes occur most commonly in people over the age of 65, however they can occur at any age. 1 in 5 people will have a stroke at some point in their life.  

The outcome of a stroke will depend on many factors including the type, size, and location of the damage, as well as the health of the person before the stroke.


Types of Stroke

The three main types of stroke are;

This stroke is caused by a blockage in a vessel carrying blood to the brain. This may be due to a blood clot, a bubble of air, or fat collected in the blood vessel. This is the most common cause of stroke.

This stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. This bleeding may be due to a vessel bursting the brain, or on the surface of the brain in the area between brain and skull.

This stroke is caused by a brief interruption of the blood supply to the brain. It is also known as a “mini stroke”. The signs of a TIA are often the same as other types of stroke, however they are temporary, and only last for a maximum of 24 hours.  A TIA could be a warning sign for a more serious stroke in the future.

Stroke is a medical emergency

If you think someone is experiencing as Stroke think F. A. S. T.






Stroke is a medical emergency. By encouraging others to act fast by calling 112 or 999 if they recognise the signs of stroke (Face, Arms, Speech, Time), you are saving lives and giving people a chance to get medical treatment and maximising their chances of recovery.

Speech and Language Therapy and Stroke

It is important to note that a stroke affects people in very different ways. The effects of a stroke can range from very mild to very severe, and may result in a wide range of physical, sensory, cognitive and communication difficulties, depending on the part of the brain involved. Common symptoms that an SLT can help with include;

  • Aphasia 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Apraxia of speech (AOS) - a motor-speech disorder that results in difficulty controlling the muscles we use to speak. It is caused by a disruption in the message travelling from the brain to the mouth, lips or tongue. This makes it difficult to make and sequence sounds, words and sentences. 
  • Dysphonia- a disorder that causes change 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- any difficulty with swallowing food and/or drink.

The Impact of Speech and Language Therapy in Stroke Care

An SLT is uniquely skilled in helping individuals who have acquired difficulties with their speech, language, voice, communication and swallowing after a stroke

  • The assessment and diagnosis of swallowing and communication difficulties post-stroke.
  • The rehabilitation of acquired speech, language and swallowing difficulties, working as part of a multidisciplinary team, with the aim to improve and restore lost function. 
  • Supporting individuals to compensate for any loss of speech, language and swallowing function, with the aim to promote an individual’s safety, social functioning, and overall quality of life throughout all stages of their stroke recovery.
  • Educating and supporting others, including carers and other healthcare professionals, to facilitate effective communication, promote swallow safety, and optimise nutrition and hydration for individuals post-stroke.
  • Facilitating individuals with communication difficulties in decision-making and in assessments of capacity, supporting and enabling them to make important decisions relating to different aspects of their own care, including advanced care planning decisions.

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.