Communication Rehabilitation after a Brain Injury
The process of rehabilitation after an acquired brain injury involves collaboration between the medical, allied health and family team to support you to your best recovery.
Your best recovery is when you start rehabilitation early when you are stable medically to be involved in your speech therapy program.
A brain injury can impact your capacity to communicate in many ways.
This may have an impact on your ability to communicate by listening, talking, reading and by writing.
Specialist Speech Pathologist intervention can make a significant impact on you and your families life.
Watch Peter’s video to have a window into the immense life quality that can be achieved from Speech Pathology intervention even in the most challenging circumstances.
Peter Blundy’s story started over 20 years ago when he fell from a second story balcony due to white rot in the balustrade while serving in the Australian Navy overseas. Being in a third world country, prevented him from gaining access to immediate neurological acute medical intervention. As result, his brain injury deteriorated to impact his body to become Locked-In and paralysed below his eyes for movement. This condition is called “Locked In Syndrome”. His communication impairment is diagnosed as Spastic Dysarthria. Peter was unable to verbally speak or communicate by non-verbal means for up to 2 years after his injury which caused him immense frustration. This was relieved when his Speech Pathologist connected him with non-verbal communication means by a Light-writer which he accessed by his small finger movement that he had remaining. Peter also had to learn to swallow again and was later able to transition from PEG or alternative feeding to now being fully fed by oral means.
Peter’s story is inspirational based on the the determination and will power that he displayed for two decades to keep talking one step in front of each other…physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. He was able to do this with the collaborative support of a wonderful Gold Coast Team which involved Doctors, Therapists, Carers and personal friends. Many years have been invested into physical rehabilitation for his movement for his body and communication, however, Peter also took a journey into learning about himself psychologically, emotionally and spiritually which is expressed in his BLOG achievements which were part of his rehabilitation program for his communication over his last 5 years of his 22 year journey through Speech Pathology in the program undertaken by Katrine Elliott. Their goals was to change his impairment of being 95% communication impaired to be 100% unrestricted globally. The internet platform facilitated this over the years of his recovery.
An acquired head injury can impact your ability to form your speech accurately using the muscles of your lips, tongue, jaw, soft palate, voice and your breath. These systems combine together for rapid and perfectly timed articulation to form the sounds in words. If there is weakness or incoordination in combining these muscle movements, then you may be demonstrating dysarthria. There are many types of dysarthria, and your Speech Pathologist will need to assess this accurately to give you the most effective treatment.
You will be expecting to undertake a series of oromotor and speech exercises as well as a program that teaches you about how speech formation is undertaken.
An acquired brain injury such as a head injury or a stroke can impact your ability to speak in words and to form sentences to communicate your thoughts.
Language involves the ability to translate your thought, ideas and needs into the frames of sentences for you to express. This involves many mental processes that involve being able to construct the syntax of sentence in the correct word order and to use the vocabulary that accurately expresses what concepts you want to say. You may have challenges in finding the right words to say or you may have words that swap with each other unintentionally.
Language also involves the ability to comprehend what another person is saying to you. You or your family member may not understand what the meaning of words are or may become confused when people are speaking fast or discussing information that is complex or abstract.
A language impairment that is caused by a brain injury is called dysphasia.
Receptive dysphasia is an impairment in understanding spoken information. This can be through your listening skills but it can also impact your ability to take information through reading as shared mind centres are involved.
Expressive dysphasia is when you have challenges in expressing your thoughts by verbal or written forms of communication.
Your Speech Pathologist will need to undertake a comprehensive battery of tests to determine which components of your brain are showing challenges so that they can develop an individually tailored rehabilitation program.
Communication rehabilitation is best achieved as early as possible in your recovery when your neurological structures are making re-connections. However, many individuals gain immense support and improvement from speech pathology involvement for many years over their recovery period and in gaining return to their new life with their family and their work.
PHASE 4- Over the years of rehabilitation, we targeted Peter’s skill of feeling confident to go out in public and to communicate with many people at various venues such as restuarrants and his community venues ie. pool, chemist, supermarket. Peter widened his circle of friends and acquaintances to become an accepted and welcomed member in his community. The peak of this experience for Peter so far was when he was invited to be the HERO for Grace for her school project. Peter was invited to come and meet the class. A presentation was prepared to communicate his journey to the students and to share the key message of… “Never giving up.”
He was warmly received. The students thanked him after with this card which was so important for Peter after the journey he has taken to get to meeting them that day.
This story communicates the benefit of collaborative team support following a neurological brain injury—and why long term support is so important in changing people’s lives.