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Communication difficulties following brain injury

 
 
 
See our TBI Home Page for a full list of information about Brain Injury, and links to information and strategies relating to memory, attention, social skills, executive functioning, and improving communication.

 
Communication difficulties often occur following brain injury (TBI) or head injury and are often present alongside problems with memory, fatigue, planning, social skills and behaviour. So when focusing on improving communication we have to be aware of these other contributing factors and how they affect speech and language skills.

 

A speech and language delay may be an obvious disability for a person following an acquired brain injury. They may have speech that is less intelligible, or a language problem which means they cannot express their thoughts or find the right words. Alongside the communication problems, they may have difficulty attending to what others are saying, processing information, organising their thoughts, and monitoring their own language. A person with brain injury may have difficulty using appropriate social skills and conversational rules, and may interrupt, may dominate the conversation, change topic, or say inappropriate things.

 

A person with a brain injury may have speech that is difficult to understand, or a language problem which prevents them expressing their thoughts or finding the right words. They may have difficulty attending to what others are saying, processing information, organising their thoughts, and monitoring their own language. A person with brain injury may have difficulty using appropriate social skills and conversational rules, and may interrupt, dominate the conversation, constantly change topic, or say inappropriate things.

 

In the months after the injury some of these problems will improve as the brain heals, but some impairments may continue. A speech and language therapist / pathologist and the rehab team will be able to focus on strategies to facilitate communication and interaction. An individual can learn new strategies to compensate for some communication difficulties, and they can also learn to self-monitor so that they manage their language and behaviour more appropriately in social situations. For those individuals with severe speech difficulties the implementation of Assistive Technology (AAC) for communication may be the next step.

 
For more information about communication difficulties, and ideas and strategies to help communication, see our Resources, or for specific fact-sheets about TBI and improving communication, go to the Downloads Section.

 

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