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The prevalence of post-stroke speech-language disorders: Underrepresented in the literature?

Even casual observers of stroke episodes and their aftermath will know that language deficits after strokes are common, and that they require ongoing therapy as part of recovery. Published evidence is that stroke survivors have more than a 50% chance of at least one diagnosable speech-language disorder. Review literature, surprisingly, has not compiled study data on this until now. And the data itself turns up an unexpected research gap.

The task of compiling was undertaken recently in the Journal of Communication Disorders (2021 Sep-Oct;93:106145. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2021.106145), with the intention of determining how speech-language disorders are represented in post-stroke fatigue research, and to catalog along the way the methods used in identifying the representative studies. It was part of a larger review of post-stroke fatigue literature.

Following a systematic database inventory, in alignment with PRISMA guidelines on categorizing and evaluating, 161 studies emerged for analysis, of which 41 (26%) excluded all speech-language disorders, 71 (44%) excluded severe speech-language disorders, and 49 (30%) included participants with speech-language disorders. Of the 120 studies that did not exclude all speech-language disorders, 34 remained that reported data from at least one person with a speech-language disorder. Of these, only 5 reported data that could be used to determine a relationship between speech-language disorders and fatigue.

The finding was that people with speech-language disorders are underrepresented in post-stroke fatigue research, and almost no studies have explicitly investigated the relationship between post-stroke fatigue and speech-language disorders. This poses a problem for speech-language therapists. They rely on this evidence, meager as it is, to guide clinical practice. It is likely that their patients are presenting with co-occurring fatigue and speech-language disorders, but the research from which they draw does not furnish ample information about the possible impact of either of these on the other.

The authors of this study suggest that future research examine ways of reflecting the true population in post-stroke fatigue studies, and document measurable fatigue in post-stroke speech-language disorder studies. They recommend a ‘Filter-Funnel’ sorting model to address this need explicitly.

MyoNews from BreatheWorksTM is a report on trends and developments in oromyofunctional disorder and therapy. These updates are not intended as diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease or syndrome.

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