What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is damaged by a blow or jolt to the head. Head injuries often occur due to car accidents, sports injuries, assaults and falls. TBI can occur even when there is not a direct hit to the head, such as when a person experiences whiplash.

What are the symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury?

Symptoms of TBI can vary greatly in both type and severity depending on what part of the brain was injured and how hard it was hit or shaken. TBI symptoms can lead to physical, cognitive, emotional and/or behavioral changes. Physical symptoms include muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity and difficulties with visual processing, fatigue, and insomnia. Cognitive symptoms can affect memory, attention, and judgment. Emotional and behavioral symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability, and increased impulsivity.

TBIs can affect both speech and language. Speech changes may occur due to muscle weakness (known as dysarthria) or the brain’s ability to control the muscles (known as apraxia). Language changes include difficulty with word-finding and formulating sentences (known as aphasia). TBI can also lead to changes in swallowing due to muscle weakness or changes in the brain’s wiring. Social changes may occur as well, such as difficulty with following rules, understanding jokes, or understanding social cues such as body language and tone of voice.

When is speech therapy recommended for Traumatic Brain Injury?

Speech therapy for TBI is recommended for anyone who has experienced changes in memory, attention, and in their ability to think quickly and make decisions. Therapy is recommended for those who notice changes in their ability to be understood when speaking or have difficulty getting the right words out, or who have experienced swallowing problems after the injury. Speech therapy is also recommended for difficulty with social skills resulting from the injury.

What does therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury involve?

Speech therapy for TBI is personalized for each client depending on their symptoms. Therapy will focus on the symptoms most important to each person’s daily life, which could involve speech, language, swallowing, cognitive, and/or social difficulties. The speech-language pathologist will also work with the patient on finding strategies that will help minimize the effects of TBI symptoms at home, school, and/or work. The number of therapy sessions required will be unique to each patient since symptoms vary greatly from person to person.