Award for speech help

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A speech and language therapy scheme in Sheffield which helps stroke survivors communicate better during their recovery has won a top award.

Dr Rebecca Palmer, a senior clinical research fellow, and therapist Jenni Crisp, from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, started a programme which helps patients practise speech exercises in their own homes.

The duo have trained 20 volunteers to become ‘conversation partners’ who support stroke survivors with aphasia - a communication disorder which makes it difficult to read, write or speak - to prevent them from becoming socially isolated.

The volunteers also motivate patients to use a computer software package every day. Up to a third of stroke survivors develop aphasia.

The scheme was awarded the Sternberg Award for Clinical Innovation from the Royal College of Speech Language Therapists.

Dr Palmer said: “People suffering from communication difficulties after stroke may have the potential to make improvements in their communication little by little over time with continued practise.

“By supporting people to practise their talking, reading and writing at home, with a computer and or a volunteer, we are able to offer more people the opportunity to continue to work on their communication for as long as they wish.

“Winning the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ award was a really special occasion, and we are honoured to have been given a national accolade showcasing the work of the Sheffield Speech and Language Therapy service.”