Dickson, Sylvia; Brady, Marian; Barbour, Rosaline; Clark, Alexander M. and Paton, Gillian
Patients' experiences of disruptions associated with post-stroke dysarthria.
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 43(2) pp. 135–153.
Background: Post-stroke dysarthria rehabilitation should consider social participation for people with dysarthria, but before this approach can be adopted, an understanding of the psychosocial impact of dysarthria is required. Despite the prevalence of dysarthria as a result of stroke, there is a paucity of research into this communication disorder, particularly studies that address the experiences of individuals. The available literature focuses mainly on the perceptions of others or includes groups of mixed aetiologies.
Aims: To investigate the beliefs and experiences of people with dysarthria as a result of stroke in relation to their speech disorder, and to explore the perceived physical, personal and psychosocial impacts of living with dysarthria.
Methods & Procedures: Participants for this qualitative study were recruited from twelve hospitals in Scotland that served both rural and urban populations and afforded opportunity for comparison. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were carried out over a 12-month period with 24 individuals with varying severity of dysarthria following stroke. The interviews were orthographically transcribed and coded using the NVivo package, which also facilitated identification of patterns using the constant comparative method.
Outcomes & Results: The results of the study indicate that the effects of dysarthria following stroke extend beyond the physiological characteristics of the impairment. In turn, the resulting communication difficulties lead to changes in self-identity, relationships, social and emotional disruptions, and feelings of stigmatization or perceived stigmatization. The impact of dysarthria was found to be disproportionate to the physiological severity, with participants continually striving to get their speech back to ‘normal’.
Conclusions & Implications: The findings provide insight into the psychosocial impact of dysarthria following stroke. Speech and language therapy interventions need to go beyond the speech impairment to address and promote psychosocial well being, reduce the likelihood of feelings of stigmatization and changes in self-identity, irrespective of the severity of dysarthria.
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