How to Stop Fumbling for the Right Word After a Brain Injury


Nine months ago, I fell and hit my head on a concrete floor. I was checked out at the ER, diagnosed with a "mild concussion" and sent home. Although my injury was “mild,” I continue to have speech problems — a slight lisp or stutter, loss of finding words, and often a delay in the flow of my speech. Some days are better than others. Where should I go from here?


You should consult a neurologist for a complete assessment of all your symptoms. The neurologist can refer you to a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation of your speech problems. An audiologist can assist in the diagnosis of balance problems and will confer with the neurologist regarding the need for balance rehabilitation. The neurologist may refer you to a physical therapist if you could benefit from balance rehabilitation.

Trying to come up with the right word and worrying about how you sound can contribute to the speaking delays you experience. Here are some tips that may help you feel more successful:

  • Allow yourself extra time before speaking.
  • Talk more slowly.
  • Use shorter sentences.
  • Rehearse what you want to say in advance.

If lack of insurance coverage is preventing you from obtaining an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist or an audiologist, try locating a nearby university that has a speech-language pathology or audiology program. University clinics often provide services at reduced fees or with a sliding scale.


Posted on BrainLine November 9, 2012.

Comments (13)

I had a fall on 1/1/19 , i saw the video and my head hit concert and bounced 3/4 times and then my legs just shook on top and i honestly had no Idea i had a head injury until recently. My MRI come back normal but I’m nit the same person. I want to know why I can’t express myself I can’t connect words when I get upset I start stuttering I get frustrated and get angry and feel stupid when I know I’m not. I feel like a haze..I can’t express myself anymore will this ever go away? I feel so lost .... the more upset I get the more angry will this ever go away... I can’t remember small stuff

I want to know why I can’t express myself I can’t connect words when I get upset I start Start stuttering I get frustrated and get angry and fell stupid when I know I’m not. I can’t express myself anymore will this ever go away? I feel so lost .... the more upset I get the more angry I get I feel so stupid. I can’t remember small stuff

I got hit in the head with a flag a couple days ago. Since then I've had trouble finding the words I want to use or I get the structure of my sentences mixed up. I'm also having some trouble with my balance. Should I go to the doctors and get evaluated? Even writing this I was having trouble finding words and getting my sentences mixed up

So what should I do, I stutter now after my mild concussion and now I have a stutter that I never had

Speaking from brain damage is in itself something and will always be with us. And comes with pschogenic room .I find looking for a problem there has hope. So try it and you may get a sence of time.

After a large fall I have a concussion. Among other injuries. I have trouble remembering the word I want to use in a sentence. When i concentrate on trying to temper that word I remember the definition or basic meaning but I cannot remember the word. Once I start thinking about the definition I forgot what subject I was even talking about then the deifinition Of the word is gone as well. It is becoming worse and very frustrating. I hope this makes sense.

The not-being-able-to-recall ... and use... many words, mainly nouns, is noticeable since I had the concussion last year. It is a bit embarrassing, but I try to chuckle and move on. People's names, and even names of common objects, has become the rule, when speaking. Since it's been over a year now, I must accept that this will probably be my "way" for the rest of my life.

Don't lose hope John. I slipped on ice, flew up in the air and landed my whole 180 pounds on my head in February 2013. I too had word retrieval issues and trouble transferring my thought aloud. I am a teacher, and I listened to my doctor and stayed out of work for 6 months. It felt like an eternity. I paid attention to any symptoms I had - headaches, tiredness...if I felt those, I stopped what I was doing and went to close my eyes and lay down if possible. It took me one full year from the slip and fall, and I am happy to say that I am 100% back to normal. If you hit the back of your head, limit or eliminate all visual electronic stimuli (cell phone, computer) and you will see massive improvements. Also, seek out vestibular therapy if you have balance issues. Good luck and have hope. Concussions are often 100% ecoverable if you allow yourself to heal. XOXO Kristina

Hello Christina.
I too have speech problems. Was just wondering if you are fully back to normal when it comes to speech? Can you talk like before ?

An area that seems to often be overlooked, at least for me after my 'mild' injury is how vision and visual processing can be effected. I had the exact symptoms with balance, delayed or stuttering speech as well as some other issues. I was finally referred to a specialist who tested visual processing. Visual Processing Dysfunctions can also effect speech.

When too tired I can hardly talk and even when aren't I sometimes say wrong word - sometimes I realize and can correct sometimes I don't. When I talk I sound very normal but I can never really say what I want and need to. If I had access to the professionals you describe I doubt they (unless really expert) would hear/see my problems. And it would depend on how tired/stressed I was, usually if I have an appointment I must rest before I go (and sometimes the day before too).

Thank you for the suggestions, my husband has had this issue since his "mild" TBI and finds it most fraustrating! Some things have new names such as a tea towel becoming a "rag" and the dishwashing liquid becoming "bubbles" because he cannot find the words. Breathing helps too...the stuttering and loss of words gets worse with anger or stress so staying calm helps too...

I can bet your husband is a vet, and you used the word, "Mild" in quotes because the problem seems large to you and your husband, but yet feels like the VA is minimizing the actual trauma. Am I right?