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Role of Speech and Language Therapy for Brain Injury

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Lucy, our specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT) explores the role of SaLT in working with people with Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI). 

 

What is an Acquired Brain Injury?

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is a trauma to the head which disrupts the function of the brain’ (NICE 2007). The term ‘acquired’ injury incorporates both traumatic injuries – incident, assault, fall etc., and non-traumatic injuries – stroke, brain tumours, infections, metabolic diseases, poisoning etc. Thousands of people in the UK are living with the effects of a long-term brain injury. (Find out more about our ABI Specialist residential service)

The human brain is an incredibly complex and delicate organ that controls various functions, including speech and language. However, due to injuries, individuals might experience damage to different areas of the head – the scalp, the skull, the brain, or the membranes, which might lead to difficulties in communication, speech, language eating, drinking, and swallowing. In such cases, speech therapy plays a crucial role in improving and restoring these essential skills.

What role does Speech and Language Therapy Play?

Brain injuries can result in a range of speech and language impairments – it can affect the ability to comprehend and express language, the motor control of speech muscles, making it difficult to articulate words clearly or the coordination of muscle movements required for speech production. It might also affect the ability to eat, drink and swallow.

Speech therapy is highly beneficial during recovery from a brain injury and supports life after the injury. It offers a comprehensive approach which aims to support individuals with brain injury to improve their communication abilities, eating, drinking, and swallowing.

The therapy focuses on:

  • Total communication approach,
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication,
  • Eating, drinking, and swallowing management
  • Compensatory strategies

hands holding a card that says the words "speech therapy"

The therapy process

  • Begins with an assessment of speech, language, communication, social interacting skills and assessment of eating, drinking, and swallowing skills by a speech-language therapist.
  • The assessment identifies skills and specific challenges faced by the people we support after the brain injury.
  • Based on the outcome of the assessments, the speech and language therapist creates a personalised treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • The plan includes therapeutic techniques and exercises to address these challenges and help the people we support regain their speech and language and/or eating and drinking skills. Compensatory strategies and techniques may include word repetition, sound stimulation, exercises to improve articulation, exercises to enhance memory and comprehension, as well as exercises for the muscles involved in chewing, eating, drinking, and swallowing.
  • Speech therapy can also involve family members and carers, providing training on how to support the person with brain injury.
  • Moreover, speech therapy is an integral part of a multidisciplinary team effort and often collaborates with the rest of our in-house clinical team and other healthcare professionals to ensure a holistic approach to the individual’s recovery.
  • The duration and frequency of speech therapy sessions will vary depending on the severity of the brain injury and the progress made by the individual.

The impact of Speech and Language Therapy on Quality of Life

The impact of speech therapy on individuals with brain injuries can be remarkable. It not only helps them regain their ability to communicate, speak, comprehend information, eat, drink and swallow, but also enhances their self-confidence and increases their independence, motivation, confidence, and quality of life. With regular therapy and a supportive environment, many individuals can make significant improvements in their day-to-day lives and adapt to their new normal.

Speech therapy plays a vital role in aiding individuals with brain injuries to overcome communication and speech difficulties and/or eating and drinking difficulties. By employing a personalised and multidisciplinary approach, speech therapists guide individuals throughout their journey towards improved speech and language skills, eating, drinking, and swallowing skills ultimately enabling them to reconnect with the world around them.

A passion for quality care  

Founded in 1996, Precious has significant experience and expertise in supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities. The company offers supported living and residential care at more than 40 locations, covering London, Birmingham, Dudley, Gloucester, Milton Keynes, and Torquay. Earlier this year, the company announced that it had recently invested significantly in a new senior team, with a new vision for the future, new values, and a renewed and unwavering focus on providing quality care.