COMMUNICATION AND TBI
Communication is one of the most crucial devices in life. By definition communication is “the capacity to exchange or discuss ideas, to dialogue, to converse with the aim of understanding between different parties.” This being said, the importance of it is engraved in day to day work, education, relationships, conversations, and leisure activities.
It is extremely important to seek medical attention right away, this cannot be stressed enough. After a traumatic brain injury, a person’s communication is anticipated to be affected. An individual post TBI may experience slurred speech, slowed speech, and difficult or some circumstances impossible to understand. This happens if the areas of the brain that control the muscles of the speech mechanism are damaged. Doctors refer to this condition as dysarthria. Others may develop apraxia, which is a condition in which strength and coordination of the speech muscles are not affected but the individual struggles with properly pronouncing words consistently.
Consequently, you may notice that TBI victims may not respond to questions or comments. Their sentences may contain long pauses. Oftentimes they may be unable to start conversations with or problems explaining what they are trying to get across.
When the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are injured, communication issues occur. Every TBI victim’s symptoms will differ, some being more severe than others are. When the problems in communication vary this is built off several factors. Some of which include the individual’s personality, abilities before the injury occurred, and of course, the severity of the damage to the brain.
Typically, the communication effects of brain damage are found to be most apparent directly following the TBI. It is difficult to fully understand what problems are long or short term within the first weeks following the injury due to the temporary damage of the brain swelling. Once the brain swelling subsides, the damage may not be permanent and the brain’s functions sometimes return. Consequently, this makes it hard to foretell the extent of long-term injury accurately.
Since the effects create a strain on day-to-day life, without much knowledge of when the symptoms will improve, it may be difficult to go back to work for the individual. Sometimes it is even difficult to do something as simple as compose an email to a coworker. Thus making it impossible to work properly.
It is oftentimes important to seek legal advice post TBI. Especially when the symptoms are “mild or moderate”, the injuries are more difficult to identify the more subtle problems. This is the main justification of seeking strong legal advice. It is crucial to have an advocate for compensation lost from work, but also for all of the other aspects the TBI has affected communication – resulting in several other emotional damages.
When the communication problems are more severe, it can make families, friends, and loved ones feel detached from the individual due to the struggle of discussing day-to-day decisions and expressing feelings. It can be very beneficial for loved ones to help the recovery process along with medical and legal help. Some suggestions include
Reducing distractions – Make sure you are able to hear the speaker to help understand what they are trying to say. If you are a better listener and well-focused, it will be easier on the speaker. Make sure there are not loud noises, such as a TV around during communication.
Try rephrasing what you said – if not understood the first time around, try rephrasing and repeating it. Another tip prior to this is to ask if they need clarification first. Honesty is more helpful in their time of need.
Do not brace for issues – sometimes the individual can feel the stress that they are causing the other party because they can’t find the right words to say. Try to relax and do not anticipate for this to occur. Patience is key.
Non-verbal communication – First after trying verbal communication, if that does not work, try using facial expressions, pictures, or gestures, or writing to assist.
Slow down your speech. Sometimes those few extra seconds are needed to process what is being said for someone with a communication disorder post TBI. Make sure to speak clearly and simply as well.
With these tips you can take home as a friend, caregiver, or loved one, you can help immensely with the path of recovery, with medical care, therapy, and if you choose to hire a lawyer as well.