I am 53 and had a TBI more than 14 months ago. Some days I just cannot speak words or make sentences. I still work most days and run regularly to keep in shape … and to keep happy. Recent tests showed that the area of my brain near my left ear is still not normal and I have some hearing problems on that side, too. I don’t take medication of any kind. Are there other strategies I don’t know about that I could use to improve my issues with aphasia?
Aphasia affects your ability to understand as well as to produce language to express yourself and is usually caused by damage to the left side of your brain. A hearing loss adds to the challenge of having aphasia from your TBI, because you have to work harder to hear what is being said in addition to understanding the words. It is wonderful that you are busy and active, but you may need to take a closer look at what causes the differences in your communication from day to day.
- Look at your overall health. Are you consistently eating and sleeping well, or do you feel more tired or stressed on some days? Your communication ability is likely to mirror how you are feeling physically and mentally.
- On a bad day, try to ease up in what you expect of yourself. Get more rest on those days, and try not to put yourself in difficult communication situations.
- Get your hearing checked by a certified audiologist to see if you would benefit from some kind of amplification.
- Make sure you minimize other sources of noise (TV, music, crowds) so you can hear and concentrate to your best ability.
And remember that one of the hallmarks of having had a brain injury is inconsistency. You will have good days and bad days but hopefully you will see a pattern of improvement over time.
Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.