A traumatic brain injury occurs when your brain is physically damaged.
It can affect both children and adults, depending on the timing of the injury.
A speech therapist can help you with brain injury recovery.
This goes beyond just speech related concerns, though.
One of our Washington DC speech therapist can also work with you to improve your cognitive function, memory, problem solving, and even social skills.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is a brain injury that results from some sort of physical trauma.
This includes bumps or blows to the head as well as even more invasive instances when an object penetrates the skull and brain.
Immediate damage to your brain happens instantly, but there are a large number of symptoms that can develop later like seizures or brain swelling.
Other examples include challenges with speech, language, thinking, swallowing, and learning impairments.
These are problems that will most likely affect your day to day, and something that speech therapy can help with.
What Are The Signs Of A Traumatic Brain Injury?
Brains are incredibly important for a wide variety of functions and so a traumatic brain injury can have many different signs.
This will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the location of injury in your brain.
Some examples include:
- Sensory problems – sensitivity to lights, sound, touch, changes in vision, and tinnitus
- Behavioral changes – feeling more emotional, anxious, angry, depressed, or having mood swings
- Social communication issues – difficulty following conversational rules like not interrupting or understanding nonverbal cues
- Swallowing problems – trouble chewing, coughing, or choking while you eat
- Physical challenges – headaches, dizziness, vomiting, vertigo, muscle weakness, and fainting
- Thinking challenges – difficulty with memory, paying attention, and retaining new information
- Speech and language challenges – problems being understood due to weak speech muscles, controlling your speech muscles, understanding what others are saying or what you read, and memory challenges trying to recall words.
What Causes A Traumatic Brain Injury?
Common traumatic brain injury causes result from:
- Car accidents
- Being hit or running into an object
- Violent assaults
- Near drowning experiences which deprive your brain of oxygen
Sports and military combat related injuries are also causes of traumatic brain injuries.
If you’ve had a traumatic brain injury in the past, the likeliness of you experiencing another increases.
Speech Disorders Associated With Traumatic Brain Injury
There are a number of speech disorders associated with traumatic brain injuries.
As a result, you will most likely be working be working with a team of healthcare professionals to help you recover.
Included in this team will be a speech therapist who will focus on your recovery as it pertains to your speech disorders.
This includes the muscles of the face, throat, and mouth, since the speech goals for a traumatic brain injury patient go beyond just language.
It includes cognition, speech, and memory too.
Now, let’s explore some common speech disorders and how your speech therapist can help you work towards recovery.
1. Memory Difficulties
Your memory is vital for your ability to speak and communicate.
It is also something that can be easily affected by a traumatic brain injury.
A speech therapist will introduce memory aids to help you build language.
These aids can be anything including a memory log, a calendar, a documented schedule, and a log of important numbers.
Training focuses on teaching you to work with these tools in order to build your memory, which will positively affect your language competency.
2. Attention Difficulties
Like memory, attention is a key component of communication.
A traumatic brain injury may affect your attention span and short term memory, which in turn makes it more challenging to process new information.
A speech therapist can create strategies to plan and organize your thoughts so that you can improve your cognitive processing.
One strategy for this includes learning the steps required to complete a task and being able to recall the proper sequence of the steps.
A speech therapist will include these goals so that you can return to your daily life as much as possible.
3. Social Skills Difficulties
A traumatic brain injury can result in requiring that you learn new ways to keep up with conversations.
Specifically, it may be challenging for you to interpret nonverbal signals like body language and facial expressions.
It may also be a challenge for you to show facial expressions while speaking or to adjust your voice to show the desired emotional effect like surprise or anger.
A speech therapist can teach you to compensate with facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures in order to improve your communication.
Group exercises can be extremely useful here to build these language skills in a social setting.
Dysarthria is when there is damage to the nerves in your brain that control your muscles.
Often, you may slur your words or speak very slow and softly; almost like mumbling.
A speech therapist’s work here is to improve your speech so that you can speak intelligibly and will create exercises to:
- Coordinate your lip and tongue movements
- Increase muscle strength in your mouth, jaw, tongue, and throat
- Improve your breath support
5. Apraxia Of Speech
Apraxia of speech is when you have difficulty with particular sounds and syllables during speech.
Often, you will know what you want to say, but have trouble forming the words and placing them in the correct sequence.
Childhood apraxia of speech is the most common type, but it can occur in adults as well as a result of a traumatic brain injury.
A speech therapist can help you by creating exercises to slow your rate of speech and pronounce words correctly.
Sometimes, an augmentative/alternative communication system is necessary if the condition is severe and a speech therapist will train you to use it effectively.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
As you can see, speech therapy is a great resource to help you recover from a traumatic brain injury.
This goes beyond just language.
A speech therapist will also work with you to develop any skills that may have been damaged due to the injury.
This extends to memory, general cognitive function, problem solving, and even successfully interpreting social cues.
The earlier you begin therapy after an injury, the greater your chances for success.
Book an appointment today with District Speech to get started and schedule an evaluation.
We look forward to working with you.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.