Advice for Dysarthria and Aphasia: Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas and his wife: “Get off your butt and go work with you speech therapist.”

Stroke Aphasia Dysarthria Advice Kirk Douglas (101 years old)

Stroke Aphasia Dysarthria Advice Kirk Douglas

Many of us grew up watching movies with Kirk and Michael Douglas.  Screen icons.

Kirk Douglas had a stroke in 1996.  That was 22 years ago!  It opened up a new window of opportunity.                                                                                           .

Stroke Aphasia Dysarthria Advice Kirk Douglas

He wrote about the personal experience of stroke and the rehabilitation that was required after it.  He imparts a great deal of wisdom to others with stroke and speech loss, and also has positive messages for spouses, caregivers and speech therapists.

Stroke Aphasia Dysarthria Advice:  Kirk Douglas

  • Kirk’s advice:  Keep up an active lifestyle.
  • “ I learned that we take too many things for granted in this world—even speech, Douglas said. . We think our thoughts and then we have no difficulty saying it in words. When you have a stroke your mind thinks quickly but your speech reacts very slowly. You have to learn how to use your tongue, your lips, your teeth. I am lucky, although my speech is still impaired, I suffer no paralysis and I didn’t die. I have begun to appreciate the gift of life. Of course,  Kirk’s advice:   I do my speech exercises every day. When I asked my speech therapist how long would I have to do my exercises? Her answer was, “until you die.”
  • I exercise every day in the gym with my wife and a personal trainer.
  • “The most difficult thing about a stroke is the depression. When I couldn’t talk, I had to cope with a suicidal impulse. I finally realized that suicide is selfish. You are only thinking of yourself and not of the mess you leave behind. The antidote to depression is humor and thinking of others. When I could barely speak, I made up a joke: “What does an actor do when he can’t talk? He waits for silent pictures to come back!”
  • “Humor is a very important element in life. I deal with it extensively in my book Let’s Face It. But the most important thing to counteract depression is to think of other people. Try to be concerned with the problems of others, try to help them. This will help you deal with depression.” (See more on depression, starting on page 10.)
  1. “I am lucky to be married to a fantastic woman—Anne. She didn’t coddle me; she helped me. When I was lying in bed bemoaning my fate, Anne would say, “Get your butt out of bed and start working with your speech therapist.” That helped me.”
  2. “I believe in the quotation by Horace Mann, “Be ashamed to die before you have won some victory for humanity.”

Many excerpts included in this article were taken from Kirk Douglas, My Stroke of Luck; NIH Medline Plus; Summer, 2007.

Read More:  “Understanding Stroke” Articles
Understanding Stroke / Know Stroke / Two Kinds of Stroke / The “Know Stoke” Campaign / Kirk Douglas Interview — “My Stroke of Luck”

We hope you are inspired by the wisdom contained within this article.  For more information go to  

See how many key ingredients this article contains such as every day practice for speech, and commitment, and finding the right physical trainer and speech therapist.  Mrs. Douglas didn’t coddle her husband and expected him to take responsibility for his speaking difficulty and not to drift into depression.  Kirk had the right people on his team who supported and encouraged him, and that is what everyone with aphasia should pursue.

Best!  Moshe Mark Ittleman, Senior Speech Language Pathologist.


<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” /></a>