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5 Speech Therapy Strategies After Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI Therapy Goals

The goal of post-acute TBI rehabilitation is to assist the patient in the process of achieving the most autonomous level of functioning conceivable. But achieving independence in communication is always one of the most important needs expressed by TBI patients.  

Speech therapy often takes place in a post-acute brain injury rehabilitation facility intended expressly for the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury. 

This type of environment permits intensive, long-term rehabilitation by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), physical therapists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists at a time when the patient can best profit from such therapy. If you’re wondering, “but… is there such a facility near me?”, then read the whole article because we share this information at the end.

There are 6 different strategies used in post-acute speech therapy in patients with TBI, depending on the level and type of their injuries, type of communication problems, or personal abilities. They can be used separately or combined.

1. Therapies for Dysarthria

A brain injury that impairs the nerves in the brain that control muscles can damage speech. A patient may slur words, or the speech sounds can be slow, too weak, or sound stifled, like a mumble. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) refers to this condition as dysarthria.

The speech therapist’s objective involves developing the patient’s speech coherence. Rehabilitation includes exercises to regulate lip and tongue coordination, increase breath support, and improve muscle power in the mouth, jaw, tongue, and throat.

2. Therapies for Aphasia

A different condition associated with brain injury is aphasia, where patients have trouble voicing sounds and syllables. They know what words they want to say, but have difficulty sequencing them. They can’t find the right words.

The speech therapist’s objective for aphasia includes exercises to slow the pace of speech and enunciate words accurately. If the condition is severe, the therapist may add a communication device to facilitate communication:

  • No-tech communication tools: signaling and pointing. 
  • Low-tech communication tools: pen and paper, a whiteboard or images. 
  • High-tech communication tools: text-to-speech apps, communication apps, communication devices.

Learn more about aphasia from this TED-Ed video:

3. Improving Memory

Memory is very important for speech and communication. A speech therapist frequently introduces memory support to support language building skills for the brain injury patient.  

The SLP takes the time to train the patient on how to use memory aids, such as a memory log, calendar, documented schedule, or a log, to improve memory. With the help of exercises, they help the patient develop competency as well as communication.

4. Improving Social Language Skills

According to ASHA, people with TBI may need to learn from the beginning how to read nonverbal signs such as body language and facial expressions. They may equally need to learn how to react to a typical conversation.

Developing social language skills may let the patient counterbalance other speech problems they face, like understandability. Patients can learn to compensate with facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures to enhance their communication.

Speech therapists usually work with individuals in smaller groups to strengthen these social language skills.

5. Improving Cognitive Communication Skills

As part of their post-acute brain injury rehabilitation, individuals with brain injuries may find it difficult to process new information, so they will also need to acquire skills for planning and composing their thoughts. 

They need to be able to ask relevant questions, concentrate on tasks, and remember names and numbers. When completing steps to any presented task, they need to learn to recall the peculiar sequence as well as any safety precautions. A speech therapist consolidates these goals with the rehabilitation plan.

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Continued Support for Brain Injury Recovery

Patients with traumatic brain injury need continuous assistance. Studies show that only 3% of TBI patients use speech therapy 10 years after the injury occurrence. The speech therapist plays one role among many crucial ones on the patient’s path to brain injury healing.

If you have any questions about speech therapy after a TBI, contact NeuLife Rehabilitation

NeuLife Rehabilitation –  post-acute brain injury rehabilitation facility

NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the best TBI rehab centers with specialized catastrophic rehabilitation programs for a wide range of catastrophic injuries. 

Our programs for neuro rehab, including cognitive therapy, are customized to meet the individual needs of each patient, and care plans are structured to promote the highest level of functional independence and successful community reintegration. Through the skills and experience of our highly trained team of clinical experts, including speech therapists, we are able to treat a wide range of diagnoses and injuries at our brain injury facility.

If you have any more questions concerning post-acute brain injury rehabilitation or any other issue regarding brain injury, call us to make an appointment today. You can also schedule a tour to visit our best brain injury facility. 

Sources: 

https://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/content/ncm/76/2/105.full.pdf 

https://www.brainline.org/article/traumatic-brain-injury-cognitive-and-communication-disorders 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.