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Brain Injury

Definition


An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is defined as 'any trauma to the head which disrupts the function of the brain' (NICE 2007), this includes infections such as encephalitis. You may also hear it referred to as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or a Head Injury (HI).

The brain is a very complex organ. Damage to the left temporal lobes or to the brain stem is more likely to result in speech and language impairment, while damage to the frontal lobes is more likely to result in cognitive impairment affecting judgement, emotions, memory, insight and behaviour.

Symptoms may include, to varying degrees, disruption in functioning of the physiological functions (eg movement of limbs), language, cognition, emotions and behaviour.

Each individual's brain injury is unique and consequently the individual will experience differing symptoms and severity.

Notes


It is common to have speech and language difficulties in the following areas after an Acquired Brain Injury:
  • Speech; unintelligible speech
  • Word finding 'tip of the tongue type difficulties'
  • Self awareness
  • Memory
  • Organisation and planning
  • Reading and writing
  • Concrete thinking and problem solving
  • Insight
  • Self esteem
Difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing may also occur after an Acquired Brain Injury.

How we can help


Our Speech and Language Therapists work closely with the individual's family and other professionals. Our therapists will identify the most effective ways to support communication for the individual, this will be shared with other people involved in the individual's care.

Our therapists will explore the individual's ability to communicate functionally in their communication environment. They will set functional goals, these will vary depending upon what is important to that individual. Goals can be very varied and may include things like improving speech clarity, ordering a drink in the pub, filling in a job application, using the telephone and developing memory and planning strategies.

Our Speech and Language Therapists can also help with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. They can also advise on Alternative and Augmentative Communication systems eg: a communication aid.

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