A SPEECH therapy assistant is campaigning for stroke patients with communication difficulties.

Samantha Thinnesen undertook a 24-hour sponsored silence to highlight the challenges of patients who struggle to talk as a result of having a stroke.

The speech and language therapy assistant, who works on the stroke unit at Fairfield General Hospital, raised £275 for communication therapy aids on the ward.

During the challenge, she found her 'frustrations intensified' and she 'increasingly became more and more withdrawn'.

She said: "When attempting to carry out daily activities, I started to struggle with my communication limitations and felt that my personality and who I am started to diminish."

Many stroke patients develop aphasia, which affects their ability to talk, read, write and understand language.

Ms Thinnesen's efforts highlight the challenges faced by patients, and the ways in which people try to overcome them.

The sponsored silence included a visit to the opticians, drinks with family, and an evening with friends.

She said: "I knew that this would be difficult for me as I can 'talk the hind legs off a donkey'!

"With the luxury of being able to write down and communicate my needs, alongside the ability to gesture, I was fairly positive and motivated to take on any challenge that came my way.

"However, I increasingly struggled with the task.

"The visit to the opticians was particularly frustrating as I was constantly writing things down and gesturing, and I could feel the stares from other members of the public.

"Drinks with my parents resulted in more frustration as I had to write down the orders for our drinks, which the bartender then couldn't understand. My mother had to come to my rescue and so this particular situation made me feel very dejected.

"Throughout the day my frustrations intensified and I increasingly became more and more withdrawn.

"Trying to join in conversations by writing comments down and gesturing frantically was too much of an effort and I slowly isolated myself from conversations.

"The challenges of trying to achieve normal day to day activities with communication difficulties were exhausting."

Ms Thinnesen's 24-hour sponsored silence helped raise £275 to buy therapy objects, activities and picture cards for the stroke speech and language therapy department at Fairfield General Hospital.

Fairfield General's speech and language therapy manager, Michelle McCormack, said: "Well done Sam in undertaking a difficult challenge and raising valuable resources and awareness for our patients."

Ms Thinnesen added: "It was a difficult 24 hours and I have definitely come away from the experience with a better understanding of the challenges of having a communication impediment."