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Cognitive Communication, Uncategorized

Stroke: Understanding the Importance of BE FAST

Patricia Masello

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, a time dedicated to shedding light on a condition that affects many stroke survivors. Aphasia, a communication disorder that results from damage to parts of the brain that control language, can drastically alter a person’s ability to speak, understand, read, or write. Raising awareness about aphasia and its impact is crucial, not just for those who have it but for everyone, as understanding can lead to faster recognition and better support.

The Prevalence of Communication Difficulties Post-Stroke

Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability, and its impact on communication can be profound. Here are some startling statistics:

  • Aphasia: Affects about 1 in 3 stroke survivors. This condition impairs the ability to process language but does not affect intelligence.
  • Dysarthria: Affects about 1 in 2 stroke survivors. This motor speech disorder results from weakness, paralysis, or lack of coordination of the muscles used for speech.
  • Apraxia of Speech: Affects about 1 in 2 stroke survivors. This condition involves difficulty in coordinating the movements needed for speech.
  • Cognitive-Communication Disorders: Affects about 1 in 2+ stroke survivors. These disorders involve challenges with communication skills that are influenced by cognitive processes such as memory, attention, perception, and problem-solving.

These statistics highlight the critical need for awareness and education about the signs of a stroke and the importance of prompt medical intervention.

BE FAST: Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

Recognizing the early signs of a stroke and acting quickly can save lives and significantly improve recovery outcomes. The BE FAST acronym is a simple and effective tool to remember the warning signs of a stroke:

  • Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance, dizziness, or headache. If someone is having trouble staying steady or experiences a sudden, severe headache, it could be a sign of a stroke.
  • Eyes: Be alert for sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes. Vision changes can be an early indicator of a stroke.
  • Face: Check for facial drooping or unevenness. Ask the person to smile; if one side of the face droops, it’s a red flag.
  • Arm: Look for arm weakness or numbness. Ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward or cannot be raised, it’s a warning sign.
  • Speech: Listen for trouble speaking or understanding speech. Slurred speech or difficulty finding words are common symptoms.
  • Time: Time is of the essence. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately. Quick action can drastically affect the outcome.

Supporting Stroke Survivors

Understanding the challenges faced by stroke survivors is key to providing effective support. Communication difficulties can be incredibly frustrating and isolating. Here are some ways to help:

  • Be Patient: Give the person time to express themselves. Don’t rush or finish sentences for them.
  • Use Simple Language: Speak in short, clear sentences. Avoid jargon and complex phrases.
  • Encourage Other Forms of Communication: Use gestures, pictures, or writing to aid communication.
  • Stay Positive: Encourage and celebrate progress, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can boost confidence and motivation.

The Road to Recovery

Recovery from a stroke is a long journey, and each person’s path is unique. Rehabilitation often involves speech and language therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Early and intensive rehabilitation can improve outcomes significantly.

Family and friends play a vital role in the recovery process. Being informed and proactive can make a tremendous difference. Here are some tips for supporting a loved one with aphasia or other communication disorders:

  • Educate Yourself: Learn about the specific condition and the best ways to support communication.
  • Join Support Groups: Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide valuable insights and emotional support.
  • Be an Advocate: Help your loved one navigate healthcare systems, therapy sessions, and social interactions.
  • Promote Social Interaction: Encourage participation in social activities and conversations to practice communication skills in a supportive environment.


Aphasia Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate ourselves and others about the challenges faced by stroke survivors. By recognizing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly with the BE FAST protocol, we can help save lives and improve the quality of life for those affected by stroke-related communication disorders. Let’s spread awareness, support stroke survivors, and ensure that communication difficulties like aphasia are better understood and addressed. Together, we can make a difference.

Interested in personalized support for you or your loved one? Get in touch! 😀

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