Cognitive language & peeling an orange


Amanda’s language therapist set her a challenge. She sent her an email with an attachment (see above) which Amanda then had to print out and anwer the questions below it.

Amanda has sat in front of our home computer just twice since her stroke. On both occasions she gave up after only a few minutes as she couldn’t read the news website I’d chosen as there was too much information on the screen.

Last Monday, both the language therapist and the occupational therapist spent an hour with her in front of it again.

Then the email arrived on Thursday.

So, I thought we’d start from scratch. The PC was already on and I simply told Amanda she had an email and waited to see what she did.

First, she located the Outlook icon on the taskbar with the mouse and clicked on it. Then she managed to navigate to the correct email from a list of 17 unopened emails, and clicked to open it.

She read it in silence and I saw the mouse move to the top of the message, where it hovered over the PDF attachment, which opened in a completely different program.

She then found the printer icon at the top of the screen and followed the instructions to print the garage sale ad (above).  I watched in silence.

‘What?” she asked, seeing the look of happy surprise on my face. This was yet another intuitive task she would perform a hundred times a week, which has suddenly returned.

She struggled to read the questions, but when I read them aloud, she could easily locate the correct answer within the text of the advertisement.

With the question in relation to start and finish times (which refer to her ongoing Nemesis – numbers), she could see the symbol ‘8’ but could not fnd the word. So she proceeded to count her fingers until she got to eight and knew that was the correct word for the symbol ‘8’. When I pointed out she had also used the fingers on her right hand to get to eight, she didn’t even realise she had done so.

So she has reached another landmark; subconciously using her right hand for the first time!


I’m trying to encourage Amanda to use her right hand as much as possible as she has full flexibility and movement and says she can feel the pressure when she grips something. It’s just the fine movement which needs refining, and only constant practice will improve it.

So today, I suggested she try and peel an orange, at first using the right to hold and the left to do the harder work of peeling. She managed it with ease as the video below shows.



Amanda seems to have fallen into a pattern of having one or two more subdued days, when she might sleep a bit longer during her afternoon naps or less inclined to keep up her therapy.

But she then emerges from these with renewed energy and often a new landmark, like those above, will follow.

In addition her ‘external monologue’ has increased. She is talking herself through her day like she did pre-stroke. She’s initiating conversation, commenting on the TV news and expressing an opinion once again

I read that nuts, and cashews in particular can aid brain development. So as well as a generous handful of blueberries on her porridge she has also been getting a small bowl of cashews with her lunch for the past two weeks.

I’d like to think they’re helping.

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