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

Speech therapy can help improve communication after TBI!With the winter weather comes a range of outdoor sports that help people stay active and have fun in the cold. Unfortunately, a lot of these activities come with an increased risk of head injury and subsequent brain injury. Last week, we talked about how you can prevent traumatic brain injury (TBI) and steps to take if you think you may have sustained one. Today, we’ll talk about how TBI can affect communication and how a speech-language pathologist can help improve quality of life.

 Language Difficulties: Trouble with word-finding, understanding other people, or organizing language are common problems for a person who has sustained a TBI. Memory can also be impacted following a brain injury, which can impact a person’s ability to hold a conversation or organize their thoughts. A speech-language pathologist will provide an assessment to determine a patient’s relative strengths and challenges. Then, they can provide exercises to improve areas of difficulty, and help the patient use their strengths to compensate for challenging tasks.

 Speech Difficulties: Often, after a person has sustained a brain injury, their speech may sound slurred or be difficult to understand. This is because brain injury can decrease the speed, coordination, and strength of the muscles that control speech. A speech therapist can help identify the speech issues that are having the most impact on a person’s clarity and ability to communicate, and provide strategies and exercises to improve communication.

Social Language: Difficulty using language socially is one of the most common issues for patients with brain injury. Unfortunately it is also frequently overlooked because the effects may not be immediately apparent. Social language issues can include difficulty with turn-taking or staying on topic in a conversation. These issues not only make communication difficult, they can also damage personal relationships and impact professional performance (if the patient has returned to work). Speech-language pathologists are trained to help identify these types of communication problems and improve social language functioning.

Have you or a loved one sustained a traumatic brain injury? What are some of the issues you’ve encountered? What strategies have you found useful in helping you overcome challenges? Join the conversation in the comments section below!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2016, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved


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