Traumatic brain injury can cause about a lot of speech and language disorders that would entail the need of speech therapy. That’s why the role of speech therapy in the rehabilitation process of a traumatic brain injury patient is very vital.
What Speech And Language Problems TBI Brings About
A person may have loss of consciousness after a traumatic brain injury. This loss of consciousness can vary from seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or even years. The longer you are out of consciousness, the more severe your injury is. After a traumatic brain injury, you may suffer secondary consequences, which are considered to be more lethal and dangerous than the primary injury.
Some of these secondary consequences include damage to your brain’s meninges, traumatic hematoma, increased intracranial pressure, herniation, hyperventilation, ischemic brain damage, and cerebral vasospasm. When these brain damages occur, they tend to affect parts of your brain that are responsible for speech and language processing and production, thus you get speech and language problems.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause you permanent or temporary memory loss, orientation problems, lesser cognitive performance or slower processing of thought, attention problems, deterioration of skills in basic counting, spelling and writing. You can also have Aphasia, where you have a loss of words.
Traumatic brain injury can also cause you difficulty in reading simple and complex information. Your naming skills, of everyday seen objects, familiar others can also be affected. It can also bring about dysarthria, or problems with movement, that can cause you to have shaky movements leading to difficulty speaking and writing.
Speech Therapy For Traumatic Brain Injury Patients
Treatment for traumatic brain injury patients can be classified into three categories. There are different treatments for early, middle and late stages of a traumatic brain injury. There are also compensatory strategies taught for a TBI patient.
Early Stage Treatment
Treatment during the early stage of a traumatic brain injury would focus more on medical stabilization. A speech therapist would also deal more on establishing a reliable means of communication between the patient and the therapist. The patient is also taught how to indicate yes or no, when asked.
Another goal is for the patient to be able to make simple requests through gestures, nods, and eye blinks. The behavioral and mental condition of the patient is also treated. During the early stage, sensorimotor stimulation is also done. Where in the therapist would heighten and stimulate the patient’s sense of sight, smell, hearing and touch.
Middle Stage Treatment
The main goal during the middle stage treatment is for the patient to develop an increased control of the environment and independence. The adequacy of patient’s interaction to the environment is also increased. The therapist should also stimulate the patient to have organized and purposeful thinking. The uses of environmental prompts are to be diminished during this phase.
A lot of activities focusing on cognitive skills like perception, attention, memory, abstract thinking, organization and planning, and judgment, are also given.
Late Stage Treatment
During the late stage of treatment, the speech therapists’ goal is for the patient to be able to develop complete independence and functionality. Environment control is eliminated and the patient is taught compensatory strategies to cope with problems that have become permanent.
Some of these compensatory strategies are the use of visual imagery, writing down main ideas, rehearsal of spoken/written material, and asking for clarifications or repetitions when in the state of confusion.