Stroke Patients & Individuals with Neurological Conditions - Parramatta Speech, Language and Literacy Solutions

Parramatta Speech - man eatingSwallowing Difficulties

A stroke can significantly impact upon an individual’s swallowing function and their ability to safely take in food and fluid, and manage their saliva. The muscles, nerves and oral structures (e.g. lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, palate) that usually work in a smooth, rapid and well-coordinated fashion to move food and fluid in to the mouth, break it down, and then move it to the back of the mouth to be swallowed may not be working as well as they used to prior to the stroke and the subsequent damage that has been sustained to the brain. The body’s protective mechanisms for guarding against aspiration (i.e. food, fluid or saliva entering the airway and the lungs) may not be as strong or as well coordinated, and so the person may demonstrate symptoms such as:


  • coughing, choking or gagging during mealtimes
  • feelings of food and fluid ‘going down the wrong way’
  • difficulty coordinating breathing and swallowing during meal and drink times
  • losing colour in the face and lips during meal times due to reduced oxygen intake
  • a spike in body temperature after eating or drinking
  • food refusal and /or decrease in appetite
  • taking a long time to eat meals
  • spilling a lot of food and fluids from their mouth when eating and drinking – i.e. presenting as a ‘messy’ eater
  • pain or discomfort when swallowing

Sometimes it is necessary for people who have had a stroke to receive thickened fluids and/or texture modified meals, in order to make swallowing easier and safer for them. Your Speech Pathologist at Parramatta Speech, Language & Literacy Solutions can undertake a thorough assessment and advise you or your family member/ friend / client about the safest ways for eating and drinking and the safest food and fluid consistencies. Contact Parramatta Speech, Language & Literacy Solutions to book an assessment.



Parramatta Speech - man reading with familyCommunication Difficulties

Stroke can also have a significant impact upon a person’s ability to:

  • understand verbal and written messages
  • put together clear, coherent and well-structured sentences
  • find the right words when they are talking
  • hold a conversation with others
  • produce sounds, words and sentences clearly
  • read written material clearly and smoothly
  • understand and make sense of written material that has been read.

These communication difficulties can have a devastating impact upon an individual’s ability to interact and communicate with their family, friends and people in the community (e.g. at shops, banks etc.). Making a phone call to organise a doctor’s appointment, using an ATM to withdraw some money, reading a newspaper or favourite magazine, writing a cheque to pay for desired goods, or watching a favourite television program can all become extremely difficult and frustrating activities after a stroke. It is important to seek help sooner rather than later after a stroke, in order to maximise recovery of speech and language skills and implement strategies that will serve to improve an individual’s quality of life and well-being. If you or a family member have suffered a stroke and have experienced changes in your communication, please contact us.

Other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease, can impact upon an individual’s communication and/or swallowing function, particularly as the condition progresses and bodily functions deteriorate. Many of the communication and swallowing difficulties described above for stroke patients can be experienced by people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease.

It is important to seek assistance from a Speech Pathologist as soon as changes in an individual’s communication and/or swallowing status become apparent, rather than waiting until they become too serious and are having a significant impact upon the person’s quality of life and well-being. This will ensure that the appropriate strategies and treatments can be implemented as soon as possible and prevent the need for more ‘drastic’ interventions such as thickened food and fluids.

If you or a family member are currently experiencing any communication or swallowing difficulties associated with a medical condition such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Motor Neuron Disease, please contact Parramatta Speech, Language & Literacy Solutions to organise an assessment.


Parramatta Speech - elderly woman with carerVeterans

Veterans may experience any of the swallowing and/or communication difficulties commonly resulting from stroke or other neurological damage to the brain, as well as the general ageing process. Veterans are entitled to receive free Speech Pathology assessment and treatment through the Department of Veteran Affairs, provided that they have a valid referral (D904 Form) from their General Practitioner. For more information, contact us.


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