Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stoke continued

     Another problem with aphasic people is that they may not understand what you are saying.  Your voice might seem incomprehensible or sound like static to them.  If you think this is the case, your non-verbal skills will come in handy.  But, don’t make the mistake of believing that they understand everything, just because they smile or shake their heads when you talk.  Sometimes it is a good idea to test them by asking a question and see what their answer is.  If you say, “It’s a nice rainy day today” and they smile and nod to indicate yes, when it is actually sunny outside, you know that they are responding to the sound of your voice instead of your words.  Don’t overestimate their ability to understand you.
     If they really don’t understand you, they may get frustrated, irritated or uncooperative.  Many times a perceived lack of cooperation is simply because they don’t understand you.
     Keep your voice soft and steady.  There is no need to speak loudly; they aren’t deaf, they just have a problem understanding.  Of course, sometimes their hearing is affected.  Then you must speak loud and slow to make them understand.  You can assess their needs as you work with them.
     Even the simplest thing, like putting on a shirt, can be difficult for a stroke patient.  Stroke victims need positive reinforcement on a regular basis, especially when they try to learn something new, or work to regain their skills. That’s when they need you to tell them that they are doing fine, offering encouragement for each small success.  Give feedback right away---don’t wait until they finish the task before saying something.  Too much feedback is better than not enough
     I know that my husband was unsure of his footing and was afraid that he might fall.  When I put his physical therapy belt around his waist, I found it much easier to help him keep his balance.  A physical therapy belt is a strong fabric belt with a Velcro closure.  They are available through your local home health program.  If you don’t have such a belt, use a regular belt, anything that you can hold on to as your patient walks along.  It gives them the secure feeling that is needed while they practice their task.
To be continued.

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