There are many ways that cognitive speech therapy can help adults who are having difficulty due to a medical condition or injury.
Speech therapy can be beneficial after a traumatic brain injury and other medical conditions such as dementia or stroke. It may be necessary to help an individual eat, drink, speak and communicate.
Keep reading to learn how cognitive speech therapy can help those struggling after a TBI.
What is Cognitive Speech Therapy?
Cognitive speech therapy is about more than helping someone say words. Forming, expressing and articulating words can be an issue. Eating and drinking can also be difficult as well as other cognitive processes.
Activities and exercises can help rewire the brain. The right stimulation and create neuropathways. This helps improve cognitive processing.
A licensed speech pathologist can provide a personalized care plan. An LSP provides support for patients struggling to think or speak. They can help a person reach the best quality of life possible for their situation.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Cognitive Therapy
There are many situations, injuries, and diseases that can leave an individual struggling to function.
Traumatic brain injuries or disease affecting cognitive speech can be caused by:
- Intracranial injury from an external force
- Lack of oxygen
The force of a car accident can cause injuries including whiplash and concussions. The head doesn’t need to come in contact with anything for damage to occur.
Any injury that jars the brain and causes swelling within the skull can lead to serious complications. It can cause damaged brain cells or death if the pressure is not relieved.
TBIs can damage cognitive abilities. Therapy for rehabilitation and restored cognitive function may improve quality of life.
Patients may need help with learning to eat, drink, swallow and speak. They may also need help managing symptoms and processing thoughts with a TBI.
Cognitive Speech Therapy Goals
The main goal is to give the TBI patient the best quality of life possible for the rest of their life. Others will vary for each person.
For some, a return of functional and cognitive abilities before the traumatic brain injury. For others, it will be about learning to function in their new reality.
Daily activities of living such as eating, drinking, and communicating may need to be relearned and adapted to be easier and safer for the patient to do. There is a greater risk with a TBI that the individual may choke.
Rehabilitation and therapy can help reduce this risk so patients are safer.
Speech Therapy Activities and Tasks
Many activities and tasks can help individuals with traumatic brain injury with many of the complications and symptoms. Some of the issues that speech language pathologists can help with include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cognitive processing
- Impaired memory
- Difficulty executing and planning tasks
- Impulsive behavior issues
- Emotional outbursts and difficulty expressing emotions
There may be other issues that require treatment and therapy under the care of a healthcare team.
A speech language pathologist and other healthcare professionals such as physical, speech and occupational therapists, neurologists, doctors, nurses, and social workers will find the best care plan for each patient’s situation.
There may be lingering headaches, difficulty hearing or seeing properly, eating, swallowing and other executive functioning issues that will need additional medical intervention.
Therapy and Training Exercises
There will be different therapy activities that will best address the difficulties each patient is facing. An executive and cognitive functioning assessment will help the licensed speech therapist choose a therapy and treatment plan that will meet each individual patient’s needs and help them gain the best quality of life achievable for each.
Cognitive speech language therapy activities can help rewire the brain to make processing and functioning easier when it comes to thought, eating, drinking, breathing, etc.
A proper and detailed assessment to determine the areas of weakness and what activities will be most beneficial is necessary. This should only be conducted by a trained and licensed speech pathologist as just guessing the right therapies can be more dangerous than helpful.
Often there are difficulties with swallowing, chewing and other daily activities of living. Without proper training, it is easier for a patient to choke or to end up aspirating food into their lungs and developing infections, pneumonia or other serious complications.
Cognitive Communication Therapy
Treatment can hone in on the exact issues that each patient is dealing with. Whether it be an issue expressing emotions or as with cognitive communication therapy it may need to focus on executive cognitive functions and attention processing.
This will help individuals be able to filter the stimuli around them, interpret and process communication such as spoken or written words.
For some, this will require starting at the beginning and learning to recognize and express words as a child would when first learning to speak. For others, it will be therapy reteaching the brain how to interpret the things they hear and think so that they can respond appropriately.
Therapy will help the individual not only with how they speak but how they process thought to organize and express them.
Eating, Speaking and Breathing Exercises
Individuals with TBI may need to be retaught how to eat and drink safely. There is an increased risk of choking and so a swallowing assessment will likely be conducted as well to ensure there is no danger of these issues.
If Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing or chewing) is determined to be an issue then there will be new eating routines suggested. This is a common issue with TBI cases and requires vigilance to avoid further health complications.
These suggestions will include safety tips such as:
- Don’t speak when eating
- Do not drink while eating
- Slow and deliberate bites
- Avoid foods and liquids that increase choking risk
Thickened liquids and minced diets may be implemented for safety.
Above activities of daily living such as eating and thinking a person may need to use speech therapy activities to help them form words properly again.
There are many activities and therapy options that can assist in regaining all or much of their previous function and help the traumatic brain injury patient regain their independence and quality of life.
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