The winner of four academy awards, this year’s critically acclaimed The King’s Speech raised tremendous awareness about the issue of stuttering and the field of speech therapy. In the film, King Edward VI’s stammer makes it difficult for him to recite prepared speeches intended to boost public morale during a difficult time. The King’s debilitating condition leaves him feeling depressed and inadequate as a leader, which many stutterers today can greatly empathize with.Likewise, persons who have suffered a stroke face many similar issues. Paul R. Rao, President of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and VP of Inpatient Operations & Compliance at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, explains that persons who have suffered a stroke have similar problems to stutterers, such as anxiety. Since a stroke can leave an individual suffering from communicative issues, patients are anxious and hesitant when expressing their thoughts or emotions. As a result, these individuals reduce how often they speak, and may stop altogether.
Aphasia is another major speech disorder. It’s defined as “a language disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language,” according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders website. The disorder impairs both the expression and understanding of language, along with the individual’s reading and writing abilities. Furthermore, it can take several years of therapy to regain one’s language skills, with complete recovery never fully obtained.
Although there are different circumstances surrounding persons with stroke and stutterers, the goal for each is the same – clear and effective communication. For Paul Rao, The King’s Speech highlighted the importance of communication and leadership. After all, the two are intimately intertwined to one another, and without one there isn’t the other.
By Jay Song, NRH Marketing Intern