There’s no universal experience when it comes to a doctor’s appointment. For some, interacting with the healthcare system can be overwhelming. For others, it’s no big deal. No matter what emotions one may have concerning a doctor’s visit, there’s good reason to keep going: Medical visits are vital to living a healthy life.
But when aphasia is involved, communicating with medical professionals can be challenging, and ultimately can put health and quality of life at risk. Fortunately, there are steps one can take to be proactive and make the most of a doctor’s visit. From no-tech and low-tech through high-tech AAC solutions, we’ll take a look at how to make the most of a medical visit when aphasia is involved.
Communication Methods and Tools for Doctor’s Visits
Plenty of individuals with or without communication-related conditions leverage no-tech communication methods when dealing with medical professionals. When reporting pain, for example, pointing to a specific location can be even more effective than dictating that information. Head movements for yes or no are completely appropriate as well. Gesture-based communication can accomplish its fair share of communication. Still, there are limitations that one might need to go beyond.
A doctor’s office is often flush with low-tech communication tools. Some of the more common tools you’ll see are pain scales, which allow patients to assign a number to the pain they feel. This helps the doctor to better understand aspects of the situation, allowing for a more informed diagnosis. Though many doctors will have similar communication tools available on-site, it’s never a bad idea for a patient to bring their own.
Communication boards are a simple way to expand communication capabilities in the short term. They’re easy to use, inexpensive, and fast. In a doctor’s office, they can help bridge a gap, and that’s great. Still, they are limited in scope, and when it comes to medical situations, the details matter.
For many, an AAC device is the preferred tool for medical interactions when speech and language conditions like Aphasia are involved. With an AAC device, patients can leverage pre-programmed icons to convey messages. Users who can spell and type can quickly enter messages that the device will in turn say aloud. AAC devices not only allow for greater transparency in medical situations, but also provide opportunities for personal independence and involvement.
No matter the communication tool one might choose, perhaps the most important element is preparation. If you’re visiting a healthcare professional for the first time, reaching out ahead of time and informing the office can alleviate some of the stresses involved with a visit. The office may even be able to make certain accommodations. Remember, they have a vested interest in your health, so they’ll want to make the most of the visit as well.
Life after an aphasia diagnosis presents a number of challenges for patients and caregivers alike. With the right approach, those with aphasia can participate in and improve their quality of life. We know what’s possible, because we’ve been fortunate to help those who need it most for more than 30 years.