The Role of Speech Therapy in Traumatic Brain Injury

traumatic brain injurySpeech therapists and speech-language pathologists work with those who are suffering from a traumatic brain injury. These healthcare professionals provide a series of tests and evaluations in order to determine where the individual is in terms of development. They make note of what needs to be practiced and what the individual is capable of doing well.

Speech therapists are also able to teach the patient a new way to do a task that may be easier than the way he or she had originally performed it. They are also capable of teaching the patient different ways to communicate if the language skills have been affected by the sustained injury. Communicating with the speech therapist may also help the patient interact in the social world with his or her friends or family.

Treatment Plan

The treatment plan is broken down after an initial evaluation. The program will vary depending on the extent of the injury, the stage of recovery, and the individual’s particular areas of difficulty. However it is done, the focus is always on helping the individual gain back his or her quality of life.

Early Speech Therapy

The first step of the treatment occurs in the early stages of recovery. Even if the patient is in a coma, the speech therapist can help by focusing on simply getting a general response to sensory stimulation. This can include touching the patient’s hand, talking loudly into the ear, or even letting the patient smell an object or food. The therapist will also teach the members of the patient’s family how to interact with him or her, as well as inform them of the changes their loved one will be going through.

Changes as the Patient Heals

Once the patient wakes up from the coma, or even when he or she starts to become more aware and responding to stimuli, the treatment will then proceed to focus on keeping the individuals attention for basic activities. The patient may experience confusion, and it is the responsibility of the therapist to inform the individual of the date, where the patient is, and let him or her know what happened.

The next step in treatment focuses on finding ways to improve memory, typically using a log where the patient can write down thoughts. The individual must also learn strategies to help with problem solving, reasoning, and organizational skills. Social abilities must also be re-learned, and small groups are useful in teaching this. The therapist will also help the patient improve self-monitoring in the hospital, home, and within the community.

The final stages of therapy may include the therapist accompanying the patient to community outings, as well as helping the individual plan, organize, and carry out trips using memory logs, checklists, and organizers. The therapist may also work with a vocational rehabilitation specialist in order to help the patient return to work or school.

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