Speech, Language and Cognitive Communication Assessments and Therapy for catastrophic and non-catastrophic clients

Acquired Brain Injury

Many parts of the brain are used for communication. Some help you understand what others are saying or writing and others form your own thoughts into speech or other forms of communication. Injuring any of these parts may make communication on many levels difficult.

Following an acquired brain injury (ABI), a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) is the professional to turn to, to assess all aspects of the person’s communication profile. Speech-Language pathologists are experts in communication and trained to identify the most subtle communication deficits that may occur following an ABI. This includes, among other things, verbal memory (memory for words), executive functioning, discourse (the way people use language to communicate thoughts, ideas, feelings, procedures, stories, and other information) , and social communication skills that can influence the person’s ability to communicate in the same way he/she did prior to the brain injury.

After an ABI, a thorough cognitive-communication assessment by an S-LP is necessary to determine the extent to which these communication difficulties may affect the person’s return to work, school, family interactions, and/or return to activities in the community. Cognitive-communication standardized tests performed by other professionals within their own assessments often do not provide enough information to determine the extent to which a cognitive-communication disorder may exist. Identifying all communication challenges, which are often times very subtle, can create a severe impairment and requires the knowledge, experience and expertise of an S-LP.

Following a thorough assessment, a speech-language pathologist will also develop a detailed treatment plan, which lists therapy goals, procedures, and strategies, to help the person and their family cope with the problem in manageable steps.

Treatment may include:

  • Educating the person with the brain injury and significant others about the nature of the person’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to help the person cope.
  • Providing the person with exercises to improve his/her cognitive-communication, speech, language and/or swallowing skills.
  • Providing the person with opportunities to practice communicating in a variety of real life settings and situations.
  • Teaching the person strategies to help compensate for or deal with their difficulties.
  • Working on restoration of function
  • Working closely with all of the professionals who are assisting the person with brain injury (e.g. Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and RSWs).
  • Support for students in the academic environments including schools, colleges and universities

Reference: Ontario Association of Speech-language Pathologists and Audiologists https://www.osla.on.ca

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