Speech therapy exercises can help you improve your ability to communicate and produce language. They can be especially helpful after a neurological injury like stroke.
You’re about to discover some great speech therapy exercises that you can try at home. Then, we’ll share some tips to help you get started even if you can’t talk at all.
Benefits of Speech Therapy Exercises
Speech therapy exercises are great for improving language disorders like aphasia. These disorders occur when the language center of the brain becomes damaged after injury like stroke.
The language center resides in the left hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, aphasia often occurs after a left hemisphere stroke or brain injury.
Speech therapy exercises help improve language skills by sparking neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to rewire itself. Through neuroplasticity, healthy areas of the brain can take over the function of language.
Speech therapy exercises encourage new areas of the brain to take on the function of speech and communication.
Neuroplasticity is activated with repetitive stimulation, so consistent speech therapy is required for the best results.
Speech Therapy Exercises to Try at Home
Ideally, you should work with a Speech Language Pathologist to improve your language skills. Then, you can use the following speech therapy exercises to practice at home in the meantime.
Here are some speech therapy exercises you can try at home:
1. Tongue In-and-Outs
Stick your tongue out and hold it for 2 seconds, then pull it back in. Hold for 2 seconds, and repeat. This helps train your tongue to move with coordinated patterns, which will help you produce better speech.
2. Tongue Side-to-Side
For this speech therapy exercise, open your mouth and move your tongue to touch the right corner of your mouth. Hold for 2 seconds, then touch the left corner of your mouth. Hold for 2 seconds, and repeat.
3. Tongue Up-and-Down
Open your mouth and stick your tongue out. Then, reach your tongue up toward your nose. Hold for 2 seconds, then reach your tongue down toward your chin. Hold for 2 seconds, and repeat.
It’s best to do all of these speech therapy exercises in front of the mirror so that you can get visual feedback.
4. Say Cheese!
Here’s another simple speech therapy exercise that improves oral motor skills. Practice smiling in front of a mirror. Smile, then relax. Repeat as much as you can stand.
The mirror is important because it provides feedback, which is fuel for your brain!
5. Practice Your Kissy Face
When you’re done practicing those smiles, try making kissy faces by puckering your lips. Pucker your lips together, then relax. Repeat as often as you can. You should slow down the movement for even better control.
6. Consonant & Vowel Pairing Repetition
Now that we’ve completed the simple speech therapy exercises, let’s move onto more complex activities.
Take a consonant that you have trouble saying, and then pair it with each of the 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u). For example, if you have trouble with the “r” sound, then practice saying “ra, re, ri, ro, ru” over and over.
If you’re feeling ambitious, try this with all consonants.
7. Sentence Production
Patients with speech apraxia, for example, have no trouble with the cognitive side of language production. However, their ability to move their lips and tongue is impaired.
Therefore, reading aloud provides an opportunity to practice speaking. This can be frustrating for patients with moderate to severe aphasia, so be patient with yourself.
Start small by practicing a sentence or two for short periods of time, like one or two minutes. Then, increase your practice periods from there.
8. Phonological Processing
Phonology refers to the pattern of speech sounds. Speech therapy exercises that help with phonology can help patients improve their ability to produce speech.
For this exercise, you will guess how many syllables are in a word. Ask a caregiver to sit down with you and say different words. Each time they say a word, guess how many syllables are in that word.
Your caregiver should always tell you whether you are right or wrong to provide feedback. The feedback is part of what makes this exercise therapeutic.
9. Word Games
Word games make great speech therapy exercises for adults. Although you aren’t producing speech, these games challenge your language processing skills.
To work on your visual processing and comprehension, try computer games like solitaire or alchemy.
To exercise your problem solving and visual processing, try word games like word searches or crossword puzzles.
Most brain games will help improve speech when you practice them regularly.
10. Speech Therapy Exercise Apps
While the exercises above are a great place to start, they aren’t tailored to your unique problem areas.
To get even better results, it’s a great idea to try using speech therapy apps like CT Speech and Cognitive Therapy App. It assesses your problem areas and assigns exercises to meet your needs.
Best of all, the CT App contains hundreds of exercises so that you can get quality therapy without the need of a therapist. In fact, the app was designed by Speech-Language Pathologist to provide better therapy for their patients at home.
While it’s always best to work with a therapist, many therapists encourage patients to use the CT App at home between sessions.
What to Do If You Can’t Talk At All
Patients that can’t talk after stroke likely sustained major damage to the language center of the brain. Recovery will take more time and effort, but it’s often possible.
Mute patients won’t be able to practice most speech therapy exercises, but they can take a step back and try a different type of speech therapy: singing therapy.
Surprisingly, even if someone can’t talk, they can usually sing their words. This is because speech is a left-brain function but singing is a right-brain function.
A unique approach called singing therapy helps patients capitalize on this opportunity for recovery.
Many people who had difficulty learning to speak again after brain injury or stroke often have great success with singing therapy.
Should You Work with a Speech-Language Pathologist?
If you struggle with speech and cognitive skills, then you should consider working with a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
An SLP is trained to help you recover speech after neurological injury, and they work with all areas of speech recovery that we listed earlier.
Most people work with an SLP for as long as insurance will cover, and then move onto speech apps when insurance cuts them off.
Which Problem Areas Do You Need Covered?
Here are some of the functions that go into speech that your SLP will assess:
- Visual processing
The speech therapy exercises in this article mostly focus on your speaking ability.
With oral motor skills being only a small part of your overall speech, it helps to work with a professional and use speech therapy apps.
Your SLP will assess your problem areas and design a rehab program to meet your needs. The CT Speech App also assesses your problem areas and caters a program unique to you.
Doing the Best Speech Therapy Exercises
Overall, the best speech therapy exercises are the ones you practice repetitively and consistently. That’s how the brain recovers.
However, because many different skills go into speech, it’s important to cover all your bases by working with an SLP or using speech therapy apps.
And if you have trouble getting started because you can’t talk at all, then singing therapy is a great option to look into.