Communication problems are common after a TBI | Virginia Traumatic Brain Injury LawyerLife can change radically in the blink of the eye when brain injuries are involved. Besides the serious interruption of your routine immediately after an accident, any head wound can lead to unexpected challenges in your daily life. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often come with long-term repercussions, such as communication difficulties that disrupt your ability to interact with other people.

The Impact of a Traumatic Brain Injury on Basic Communication

A TBI frequently interferes with basic cognitive skills like speaking and reading. Many TBI patients have a hard time recalling a specific word for an object or concept previously known well. That issue can cause brain injury victims to engage in long, meandering descriptions to arrive at a specific word like “shirt” or “bus.” 

Forgetting individual words isn’t the end of the problem however, as the meaning behind words may become garbled. Those issues may interfere with the ability to understand common phrases like “kill two birds with one stone” or “that’s a piece of cake.”

Losing common words and meanings can have a large impact on personal interactions even with close loved ones. Some TBI incidents also cause dysarthria, which is slurred or slowed overall speech. Between forgetting words, having a hard time grasping the meaning of words, and speaking at a different rate, you may require significantly longer to get a point across in conversation.

In addition to those frequent speaking hardships, the most common communication problems experienced after a traumatic brain injury include difficulty with:

  • Concentrating
  • Remembering details
  • Organizing thoughts in a coherent, logical pattern
  • Correctly interpreting speech and actions from other people
  • Understanding how your speech may affect the people hearing you
  • Maintaining an appropriate tone for the conversation topic
  • Waiting for the other person to finish speaking before talking again
  • Speaking at a normal speed

Any one of these problems alone may lead to unintended consequences during verbal or written communication, from misunderstanding meanings to actively hurting feelings. If several of these communication problems are combined at once, it makes social interactions difficult both in public and private life. 

Normal everyday activities like ordering a coffee at a restaurant, reading an article from a news site, or writing an email to a coworker may become frustrating or even impossible to complete. If you can’t go back to work after an accident due to these problems, hiring an experienced brain injury law firm is your best shot at seeking compensation.

These communication issues can be temporary, only occurring for a short time after the accident, or permanent and lead to lifetime changes. Treatments will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the duration of the communication difficulties, but they can become extremely expensive even in the short term.

Treating Communication Difficulties After a TBI

Specific speech problems should be diagnosed by medical professionals such as a neurologist, speech-language pathologist, neuropsychologist, or occupational therapist. After a diagnosis, your medical team can come up with a treatment plan to best meet your needs.

For instance, some slurred speech issues are caused by muscle paralysis or weakness after the injury, rather than actual cognitive issues, and may be treated with medication. While there are no direct medical cures for most communication difficulties caused by a TBI, surgery may be utilized to relieve pressure on the brain in the event of fluid buildup to prevent further problems. Additionally, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications may also be prescribed to deal with the secondary effects of communication difficulties. 

Rather than curing the actual brain damage, most treatments are aimed at dealing with the repercussions of your injury. These rehabilitation therapies are used to improve communication skills over time and develop coping mechanisms for speech problems. After an accident that led to a brain injury, you may experience mounting medical bills due to ongoing therapy such as:

  • An extended stay at a rehabilitation facility for traumatic brain injury patients
  • Regular outpatient speech and occupational therapy appointments
  • In-home therapy visits

In any of these cases, an attorney can help seek compensation for your ongoing medical costs, reduced quality of life, and lost wages if you are unable to maintain your previous work schedule after a TBI.


Kevin W. Mottley
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Richmond, VA trial lawyer dedicated to handling brain injuries, car accidents and other serious injury claims