Traumatic brain injuries (TBI?s) cause a significant loss of cognitive functions. According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the location of the injury can hurt a patient's ability to communicate. Long-term symptoms of neurological damage include being unable to understanding spoken words and following conversational patterns. Speech-language pathology is one of the few forms of treatment that is effective for treating TBI-related communication disorders. To combat the medical issues, many healthcare facilities have created new SLP jobs.
Pathologists work closely with primary physicians and neurologists to determine what areas of the brain are injured. The collaborative approach allows speech specialists to determine what side effects the patient could develop.
Physicians rely on pathologists to restore normal speaking patterns so they can treat other symptoms. ASHA writes that the early stages of therapy involve teaching clients to respond to audible and visual cues. Pathologists usually work with family members to provide patients with familiar voices immediately following their injuries.
For severe brain injuries, part of every speech language pathology job is teaching patients how to communicate non-verbally. Dry-erase boards are given to clients who can write and read, while others are taught basic sign language.
It can take years for TBI patients to regain normal speaking patterns. In some cases, pathologists work with the same clients for the entirety of their recovery. Later treatments focus on improving social skills and returning to everyday life. ASHA writes that SLPs usually work with a vocational specialist to help their patients thrive in traditional workspaces.
The Mayo Clinic notes that pathologists teach families how to support recovery. During the sessions, loved ones learn how to continue therapy at home. The more patients practice speaking, the faster they will recover from their brain injuries.