Traumatic Brain Injury: Benefits of Speech-Language Pathology Services

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Traumatic Brain Injury: Benefits of Speech-Language Pathology Services

How effective are speech-language treatments for TBI?

ASHA has written a series of treatment efficacy summaries that describe evidence about how well treatment works. These summaries are useful not only to individuals with TBI and caregivers but also to insurance companies considering payment for much needed services for TBI.

What does a speech-language pathologist do when working with people with TBI?

A treatment plan is developed after the evaluation. The treatment program will vary depending on the stage of recovery, but it will always focus on increasing independence in everyday life.

In the early stages of recovery (e.g., during coma), treatment focuses on:

  • getting general responses to sensory stimulation
  • teaching family members how to interact with the loved one

As an individual becomes more aware, treatment focuses on:

  • maintaining attention for basic activities
  • reducing confusion
  • orienting the person to the date, where he or she is, and what has happened

Later on in recovery, treatment focuses on:

  • finding ways to improve memory (e.g., using a memory log)
  • learning strategies to help problem solving, reasoning, and organizational skills
  • working on social skills in small groups
  • improving self-monitoring in the hospital, home, and community

Eventually, treatment may include:

• going on community outings to help the person plan, organize, and carry out trips using memory logs, organizers, checklists, and other helpful aids
• working with a vocational rehabilitation specialist to help the person get back to work or school

Individual treatment may continue to improve speech, language, and swallowing skills, as needed. If the person is learning how to use an augmentative or alternative communication device, treatment will focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness with the device.

The Preferred Practice Patterns for the Profession of Speech-Language Pathology outline the common practices followed by SLPs when engaging in various aspects of the profession. The Preferred Practice Patterns for cognitive-communication assessment and intervention are outlined in sections 22 and 23. The Preferred Practice Patterns for a comprehensive speech and language assessment are outlined in section 10.

In 2003, ASHA developed a technical report, Rehabilitation of Children and Adults With Cognitive-Communication Disorders After Brain Injury, that describes the role of the SLP in the management of individuals with TBI.

See also:

Posted on BrainLine June 2, 2010.

From the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used with permission.

Comments (5)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

Unfortunately many axillary personal in doctors offices are undereducated for their positions. As a RN I too have had verbal tussles with M.D. staff and consequently fired the doctors. It seems they save money hiring low or no educated staff and lose more money because of it. Penny wise pound foolish.

The two comments above are spot on......when the Doctors don't get it, who will.

I think we may have a better chance with non-medical people because there are a lot of people out there who have traumatic brain injury,including myself, and unfortunately doctors don't understand the difference with neuropsychological symptoms due to the TBI and regular psychological symptoms. I suggest seeking out a support group for TBI. Not only will they give you support but might have some helpful tips for the struggles you are going through with doctors who "think you are making excuses." Good Luck and know you have support from your peers.

Excellent!! You are so correct!!

I have a brain injury with the speech problems you mention.  I've even had an employee in my doctor's office say I was talking too loud.  She said my explanation of a speech problem from my injury was, quote, "an excuse".

If people on a physician's staff are rude and demeaning, what chance do we have with non-medical people?