Introduction: Each year an estimated 30,000-45,000 UK individuals experience stroke-related dysarthria (impairment of movements required to produce speech). Many will experience persistent dysarthria long after discharge from stroke services. Although we have some insight into the impact of other communication impairments, we have very limited information on the impact of dysarthria on social participation.
Purpose: To explore the impact of dysarthria on social participation following stroke.
Methods: We report data from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 24 individuals with stroke-related dysarthria.
Results: Our findings suggest a complex association between the severity of an individual's dysarthria and the impact on their social participation. Participants' descriptions highlighted their experiences of social participation and isolation. We further suggest that, in some cases, the coping strategies adopted by the participants could be seen to further exacerbate this isolation. These results have important implications for the prioritisation, planning and delivery of therapeutic interventions for people with dysarthria.
Conclusions: The impact of stroke-related dysarthria transcends the physiological impairment to impact upon individuals' social participation, which is key to the process of rehabilitation. The development and evaluation of the effectiveness of an intervention that addresses these impacts is the next challenge for therapists and researchers working in this area.