Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” Symptoms that present with TBIs can range in severity and duration. The treatment process will be directly informed by an individual’s circumstances and the severity of his or her TBI. Many individuals that have sustained a TBI are likely to experience difficulties related to one’s language skills. Depending on the location of injury in one’s brain, aphasia can occur as the language centers of the brain known as Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area are affected. Aphasia after a TBI can manifest in a variety of forms (e.g., weakening of the facial muscles, damaged cognitive functioning that is relied upon for word retrieval and sequencing, etc.), all of which can impact one’s ability to verbally communicate with others. Every brain injury is different, and the recovery process will vary from person to person. The most effective way to activate neuroplasticity and improve one’s language skills after a TBI is through speech therapy.
Speech Therapy Options
Speaking requires the use of several different areas of one’s brain. If any of these areas were injured in a TBI one’s ability to speak will be affected. Depending on one’s needs there are a variety of speech therapy options and techniques used in the rehabilitation process. Common speech disorders that may present with TBIs and can be treated with speech therapy include:
- Dysarthria: is a condition that occurs when the nerves that control one’s facial muscles are damaged. Speech therapists will often employ an array of facial strengthening speech activities to rebuild one’s facial muscles.
- Apraxia of Speech: is a neurological condition that affects the brain pathways involved in planning the sequence of movements connected to producing speech. To treat apraxia, speech therapists use articulation exercises to retrain one’s brain to coordinate muscle movement correctly.
There are different types of speech therapies used to treat aphasia (e.g., constraint-induced language therapy, melodic intonation therapy, etc.). Speech therapists are trained to treat all types of language disorders and can create customized treatment plans that ensure each individual’s nuanced needs are met.
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