I had a severe TBI a year ago and since I came out of the coma, my husband constantly reminds me to “speak up.” Is this part of TBI? Why is this an issue?
Individuals who have suffered a TBI may be less aware of problems from their injury than their spouse or other family members who spend the most time with them. Here are some possible reasons for the communication breakdowns that you and your husband are having:
- TBI survivors tend to become fatigued from expending the energy it requires to stay focused and active during the day. Without being aware of it, you may not have the energy to keep your voice at a consistent loudness level when you are tired.
- If the TBI damaged any of the nerves or muscles controlling your breathing or your speech, you may have a softer voice or less clear speech than you did before. That means people have to work harder to understand you. Try to speak slower and separate your words so they are clearer.
- Hearing loss is common as people age. Although the change may not be dramatic, you or your husband may have more difficulty understanding one another if you are not looking at one another’s face or you didn’t know the other person was speaking. Don’t talk to one another from different rooms; try to begin conversations while you are face to face.
- If you have not already done so, it would be a good idea to consult a speech-language pathologist to determine the reason for your husband’s constant reminders. A speech-language pathologist could work with you or with you and your husband to figure out solutions to the communication frustrations you both are experiencing.
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.