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.