Traumatic Brain Injury: How Can a Speech-Language Pathologist Help?

TBIDid you know that each year 1.7 million Americans will sustain a traumatic brain injury? A TBI can leave the victim with a range of deficits, including problems with speech and language. Because a brain injury can impact communication, a speech-language pathologist is often enlisted to help aid in recovery. Here are some of the most common ways a TBI can affect communication, and how a speech-language pathologist can help:

Muscular Weakness and Incoordination: A traumatic brain injury can decrease the speed, coordination, and strength of the muscles that control speech. Noticeable differences in speech may occur, making it difficult for the patient to communicate effectively. Speech therapy can help to improve upon and compensate for these speech difficulties. Muscular deficits may also impact swallowing, causing food or liquid to be inadvertently diverted into the lungs. A speech-language pathologist can provide swallowing therapy as well as recommendations for feeding-management techniques and techniques to increase safety when eating and drinking.

Pragmatic Function: One of the most common issues for patients with a traumatic brain injury is difficulty in pragmatics, or the social use of language. For example, patients may display difficulty with turn-taking, topic maintenance, and interpreting facial expressions and body language. They may also display a flat affect, or lack of visible emotional variety. These issues can greatly interfere with an individual’s ability to maintain relationships and communicate effectively. Speech-language pathologists are trained to help remediate these types of pragmatic difficulties and improve social language functioning.

Check in with us again next week to learn more about how a traumatic brain injury can affect communication, and how speech therapy can help in recovery.

Do you know someone that has had a traumatic brain injury? What challenges have they faced?


If you have any questions about TBI or any other speech-related concerns, contact Speech Associates of New York and allow our professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists help you communicate to the best of your ability. Our team provides in-home evaluations and therapy, and is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at (212)308-7725 or visit our website at and find out how we can help you communicate your best!

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