Reading exercises to aid recovery from stroke
July 31, 2008 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I had a stroke three months ago, and although I’ve lost very little functionality, I would like to find some sort of exercises to improve my reading and writing capability.

I’m 28 years old, and had a stroke at the end of April. I had no physical symptoms, but did lose my ability to speak and write for about 36 hours (with improvement beginning after about 24 hours). I felt like I was probably back to 95% of my capability for reading and writing—80% for my speech—after about a week.

I am a copyeditor, and reading/editing has always just come sort of naturally to me. I have not taken any courses in proofreading or editing, although I intend to do that this year (had lined that up before the stroke).

I’m concerned though because I seem to have lost some of my native ability to catch errors. Worse, I stop at words or sentences where I think I see an error, which then turn out to have none (I read “recommendation” as “recommend” today, for example). I’ve been switching letters in words, words in sentences, and numbers, so I end up having to check things three or four times.

I’d like to find some sort of exercises that could potentially return my reading skills to their former level. I thought perhaps reading a lot on the side might help, but I am easily frustrated because I am reading more slowly than ever before.

I’m not sure what sort of exercises I should be looking for (speed reading, maybe?), or if something like that would even necessarily help, but I figure it’s worth a try. Any suggestions?
posted by kthxbeth to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
real scientists will scoff at the idea, but what about getting nintendo ds and some of the new "brain" games?
posted by crickets at 10:18 AM on July 31, 2008

I'm not a doctor, so I don't know, but there were a few NPR programs recently that talked about a scientist who had a stroke and her experiences.

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

I haven't read the book, but from the interviews, I got the impression that her experiences helped people understand how each stroke is unique in a certain way.

I know you hate reading now, but if there was something current to read, this would probably be it.

NPR Fresh Air interview

NPR Talk of the Nation interview

posted by abdulf at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but a really close friend of mine at our office had two massive strokes when she was 43. She didn't seem to have any immediate symptoms, but over time, especially when she was overtired or extremely stressed, she would begin to reverse the order of her words while speaking and reading, and sometimes forget the meanings of words. Her handwriting has changed dramatically, although not for the worse. It's just different. The speaking and writing problems were much more perceptible when her doctor changed her medication, as well.

With that said, she seemed to be more in control of herself and more like she was before the strokes when she took care of herself. If she slept well, walked or did yoga, and meditated at night, she said that she was hardly feeling the after-effects of the strokes and the side effects of the medication at all.

FWIW, she drafted and proof-read legal contracts every day. Some days she moves a little slower than others, though.

I hope you can find something that works for you. I know that this is probably not the best answer for your situation, but it can't hurt to try.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 12:01 PM on July 31, 2008

Crossword puzzles!
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2008

What you are looking for is called 'cognitive rehab' or 'cognitive therapy.' It's out there - speech therapists do it, occupational therapists do it, some folks call themselves cognitive therapists and do it - and it's proven efficacious. Medicare won't pay for it, so no other insurance will either, so that explains why you don't see a cognitive therapist on every block the way you do see physical therapists.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:40 PM on July 31, 2008

Incidentally, for my patients who can't afford it, I've been recommending they buy a Nintendo DS Lite and play Brain Age an hour a day. Their scores go up and they tell me they feel sharper.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:41 PM on July 31, 2008

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