Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Please speak with a medical professional before seeking treatment.

What can speech therapy help with?

Speech therapy can help with communication and swallowing problems due to brain injury, including speech, language and cognitive-communication challenges.

What is speech therapy?

“Speech disorders occur when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with their voice or resonance. Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings (expressive language).” – American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

If your speech or your swallowing has been affected by your brain injury, speech therapy can help. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will assess any difficulties you may have with language, social communication, and cognitive-communication, such as problems with thinking of the words you want to say, interacting with others, or remembering and paying attention. They will often evaluate the physical structures that are involved in speech and swallowing. For example, they may assess how well you are able to move your lips, jaw, and tongue or use your voice to speak. Once the evaluation is complete, the SLP will provide education, strategies, and exercises to address any communication or swallowing deficits you may have.

What is speech therapy like?

SLPs do a formal and informal evaluation to see what areas of communication or swallowing you’ll need to work on. A formal assessment involves the use of standardized tests which help narrow down the areas that you’ll address in therapy. An informal assessment includes a conversation where the SLP can learn more about your experiences and the areas of your life that have been affected by communication or swallowing difficulties. For treatment, the SLP may offer strategies to help with language, exercises to strengthen oral muscles, and techniques for breathing more efficiently and comfortably. If, like many patients, you have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, the speech pathologist will help you articulate those sounds more clearly and then offer a lot of guided practice to help lock in those new skills.

Speech therapy sessions may be one on one, in a group with others, or a combination of one on one and group therapy sessions.

In addition to therapy sessions with your SLP, speech therapy usually involves regular practice at home and in your day-to-day life. Everyone’s treatment is different, but you may wind up using:

  • Workbooks or speech exercise programs that offer opportunities to practice specific sounds
  • Exercises to improve movement and strength of the muscles involved in speech and swallowing
  • Speech therapy apps or computer games
  • Structured daily communication practice, which can include speaking, listening, writing, and gesturing

What do people say about speech therapy?

When you have aphasia it’s not a loss of intellect. [My husband] was still as brilliant three months post-injury as he was before his injury. The problem was that his brain could not process language anymore.,

Abby Maslin, caregiver

What makes for effective speech therapy?

A speech-language pathologist should have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), meaning they must earn a graduate degree, successfully complete the required clinical experiences, and pass a national examination. SLPs can also be licensed by the state. Ideally, the SLP will have experience in brain injury and be willing to work and communicate with any other members of your recovery team, including doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals.

Why does speech therapy work?

Speech therapy can strengthen the physical features necessary for speech and swallowing, as well as the mental faculties that allow for receiving, processing, and expressing language. Improving these skills leads to more opportunity, more confidence and less frustration. As it becomes easier to express yourself and to understand more readily what others are saying, it can also open doors in your life — socially, emotionally, and professionally.

Where can I find a speech-language pathologist?

Your doctor or primary care physician may be able to give you a recommendation for a good speech-language pathologist.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the leading professional group in this field, and ASHA’s directory is a good place to start: Find Certified SLPs


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). The Profession of Speech-Language Pathology.

Johnson, G. (2014). Speech Pathology After Brain Injury - Key to Cognitive Recovery. Brain Injury Help.

Santos-Longhurst, A., & Luo, M.D., E. K. (2019, May 9). Speech Therapy: What It Is, How It Works & Why You May Need Therapy. Healthline.

Treatment/Speech-Therapy/Speech Therapy - Brain Injury. (2008). The Brain Injury Guide & Resources.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Please speak with a medical professional before seeking treatment.


Reviewed by Tracey Wallace, MS, CCC-SLP, Cooper Hodges, PhD, Lyndsay Tkach, MA, CBIS, and Michelle Neary, March 2021.

The BrainLine Treatment Hub was created in consultation with TBI and PTSD experts.