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.
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.