Although your brain is well-protected inside your skull, it is, unfortunately, not impervious to injury. Whether from an accident, stroke, or other trauma, when the brain sustains an injury, therapy is necessary to ensure that the body's "command central" is able to get back up and running.
One of the areas of the brain that can be seriously impacted by a traumatic injury or an illness, such as a tumor or encephalitis, is the language center. Many times, due to the swelling and bruising in the brain, therapy is necessary in order for the patient to regain the ability to talk, remember, and communicate.
Often the degree to which the patient's cognitive abilities were affected cannot be immediately determined. However, once the patient is stabilized, physicians will be able to better assess the damage the brain has sustained.
As healing begins, the different therapies required to restore any abilities which were lost as a result of the injury can come into play. Physical, cognitive, occupational, and speech therapies help the patient recover a full life.
The Purpose of Speech Therapy
Speech therapy plays a highly significant role in helping patients relearn how to communicate in a clear manner. The patient will typically begin working with a speech therapy team almost immediately, often even in an altered state of consciousness such as a coma. As the patient stabilizes, the therapist can determine the degree of therapy required.
Developing communication skills is essential to helping the patient be as independent as possible. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and swallowing are all areas that are addressed during speech therapy. Every patient is different and will need more help in some areas over others, and the term of rehabilitation services can vary depending on the severity of the injury.
Signs of Success
To loved ones and caregivers, speech therapy may seem like a lot of repetitive and slow-going practices. You may not notice the return to previous communication skills for some time, and that can feel discouraging. Rest assured, though, progress is being made.
The individuality of each case makes it difficult to gauge progress, but by knowing what to look for you can recognize successes in regaining communication skills through speech therapy.
- Ability to communicate
Even the slightest difference in communication skills should be a celebrated success. Many times the patient’s ability to communicate is challenged by the injury. Speech therapy helps find new pathways within the brain by which communication skills can be recovered and honed. Once the patient is able to communicate their needs effectively, recovery is well on the way.
- Vocal modulation
Appropriate vocal modulation can be difficult for a person with a brain injury. The patient may speak extremely loudly or barely above a whisper. When you notice you’re able to communicate at an audible and acceptable level, progress has been made.
- Recognizing cues
Recognizing verbal cues and responding accordingly is a huge cause for celebration! This means the patient is able to comprehend what is being said and reply in kind. This signifies an important success in the patient’s speech therapy.
Depending on your personal goals, it could take as long as 24 months to fully recover communication skills. Not all of that time needs to be spent in a rehabilitation facility; however, in the beginning, early and intense intervention makes all the difference.