Speech Disorder Treatment After Brain Injury

Patients with traumatic brain injury may lose their ability to breathe, swallow, speak and walk on their own, depending on the severity of the injury. Speech therapists deal with speech disorder treatment after brain injury. Speech therapists are also involved in the rehabilitation of swallowing disorders.

Brain damage occurs due to traffic accidents, sports injuries, violent events, falls. In severe brain damage, a tracheostomy (the hole from the skin in the front of the neck to the trachea) may be made for the patient to breathe. Structures that have a function in speech, such as the jaw, throat, and mouth, may be damaged. These situations impede speech. In addition, if the areas of the brain related to language are damaged, the patient may have difficulty in speaking and understanding (aphasia).

In speech therapy, tests that measure speech and language functions are used to determine which functions of the patient with brain damage are affected and to what extent. Accordingly, the issues that need to be emphasized in speech therapy are determined. Language skills are impaired in 75% of patients with severe brain damage. These disorders can range from forgetting how to use muscles to say words, to not being able to remember words, from memory and attention problems to forgetting grammar/grammar.

In speech therapy, techniques other than the ways that the patient is used to before can also be applied to increase the speaking skill of the patient. For example, saying sentences in a certain rhythm or melody.

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Early treatment for speech disorder after brain injury

Speech therapy in brain-damaged patients begins very early on. Even in a comatose patient, an attempt can be made to obtain a response with sensory stimuli. Holding the patient’s hand, talking loudly, and even making him perceive different smells are examples of sensory stimuli that can be given during this period. As the patient’s clinical condition changes, the speech therapist may offer different communication methods to patient relatives and caregivers.

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Treatment focuses on prolonging the patient’s attention span during the period when the patient begins to emerge from the coma, that is, when they are more aware and responsive to sensory stimuli. The patient is confused (confused) during this period. The therapist informs the patient to ensure that he is aware of the time, place, himself and the people around him.

Then, memory-enhancing methods are applied. For this, the patient can be provided to keep a diary. Exercises or games are done to develop problem solving, logic and organizational skills. Social skills are regained through small group activities. Brain-injured patients may have difficulty interpreting non-verbal cues of speech. They may need to relearn the meaning of facial expressions and hand gestures.

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Dysarthria treatment

Dysarthria is the difficulty in speaking due to problems in the nerves or muscles in the head without affecting the parts of the brain related to speech and language. In dysarthria, the patient cannot pronounce the sounds correctly, there is difficulty in pronunciation. In the treatment of dysarthria, coordination of tongue and lip movements is improved, correct use of breathing is ensured, and mouth, jaw, tongue and throat muscles are strengthened.

apraxia treatment

Another speech disorder that can be seen after brain injury is apraxia. In apraxia, the patient has difficulty with sounds and syllables. He knows which word to use, but has problems with sound syntax and cannot form the word correctly. In the treatment of apraxia, the rate of speech is slowed and the focus is on the pronunciation of the word. If apraxia is severe, the patient can be taught alternative ways of communication. These can be as simple as blackboards or as complex as computerized systems.

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