One of the most joyous things about getting back to normal is the ability to safely visit our parents and grandparents – those members of our community who were most at risk during the pandemic. And as we all get together again to celebrate family and company, there will a lot of chatting and eating!

Problems speaking are one of the most obvious signs of stroke. Problems with chewing and swallowing are also common. Of course, there are other effects of stroke, but I’ll stick to what I know best here. A stroke is damage to the brain caused by a disruption in blood flow from a blockage or a bleed. Effects can be mild and fleeting or severe and life changing. In any case, rehabilitation after a stroke is extremely important.

And that’s where your Friendly Neighbourhood Speech Pathologist comes in. The site of a stroke can affect how we speak, understand and/or swallow.  We examine the muscles involved in speaking as well as how a person forms words and sentences. Speech problems can range from slurring to sentences that don’t make sense (although they make perfect sense to the person speaking). Depending on the site of the stroke, understanding speech can also be affected to varying degrees. Finally, swallowing food and drink can become difficult, if not dangerous, if the brain cells that control this function are affected. 

The good news is that the effects of stroke can be treated if addressed quickly. It’s tough to say how much improvement can be made, but improvements certainly CAN be made. Treatment shouldn’t stop after hospital discharge; in most cases, it’s important to seek help beyond the hospital and to stick with intensive therapy for months after a stroke. 

As we rekindle our connections with loved ones at risk for stroke, it’s important to know the signs ( If you know someone who’s suffered one, consider encouraging them to keep working at their recovery. We all deserve to get back to “normal” and talking and eating with each other in person is probably the best part of normal there is!


Mohamed (Mo) Oshalla, MHSc.,
Speech-Language Pathologist & Executive Director,
Ontario Speech & Language Services


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