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The Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Speech

Traumatic brain injuries can affect a number of different areas of your health, including your ability to communicate. From speech issues to difficulty with writing and reading, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cast a wide net.

In this month’s blog post, the team of speech therapists and speech pathologists here at Celebrations Speech Group is going to dive a little deeper into the connection between traumatic brain injuries and one’s ability to communicate.

Behind TBIs

In 2020, there were slightly more than 214,000 TBI-related hospitalizations in the United States — which is about 586 per day.

A TBI is typically the result of the brain being rocked extremely hard inside the skull, causing it to shear and bruise, leading to damage. Car accidents, sports injuries, falls, and violent shaking are some of the more common causes of TBIs.

No matter what causes the TBI, the side effects of the injury depend very much upon which areas of the brain are damaged and to what extent.

TBIs and speech

Some of the more common outcomes of a TBI are speech and communication issues, and these three occur most frequently:

1. Dysarthria

This speech disorder is a motor issue — your brain isn’t communicating well with the muscles in your mouth that you use for speech. As a result, speech can be:

In some cases, you might just sound different than you used to.

2. Apraxia of speech

Another common result of a TBI is acquired apraxia of speech, which is also a motor disorder. With apraxia of speech, you might mispronounce or garble words. People with apraxia of speech can also struggle to find words. In extreme cases, apraxia of speech can leave a person non-verbal.

3. Aphasia

People with aphasia have trouble processing and understanding speech and communication, which can affect their ability to speak clearly, read, and write.

For example, someone with a TBI may not write legibly after the brain damage, or they might use the wrong word for objects.

Improving communication after a TBI

In many cases, people who develop language, speech, and communication issues after a TBI do get better with time and the right therapy. At our practice, we work closely with TBI patients to help them re-establish their ability to communicate.

We find it’s often best if we can start speech therapy as soon as possible after the TBI so that we can work toward re-creating and strengthening the correct neural pathways for speech and language.

If you have more questions about TBIs and their association with speech and language disorders, please contact one of our offices in Brentwood, Stockton, or Elk Grove, California, to schedule an appointment.

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