Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists have played an instrumental role in my recovery. In the beginning of my stroke, I had global aphasia; I couldn’t speak or understand language. With the help of these professionals, I regained my communication.
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month which raises awareness about communication and the ability to hear, understand, speak, and swallow. Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists (SPLs) are professionals that diagnose and treat communication disorders.
Communication problems after a brain injury are common. Communication disorders occur in 25% to 40% of stroke survivors. This figure doesn’t account for those with brain tumors, brain infections, traumatic brain injuries, or anoxia. There are 1 million people living with aphasia in the United States.
Speech-Language Pathologists perform many functions to treat brain injury. Some of the special work they do includes treatment for the following:
- Dysphagia – They help patients relearn how to swallow which prevents malnutrition and dehydration.
- Aphasia – They treat numerous forms of aphasia including the following: receptive, reading & writing problems, and expressive aphasia
- Dysarthria & Apraxia – They help patients overcome speech difficulties.
- Cognitive Communication Difficulties – They help patients overcome executive function deficits.
Hearing loss can occur after a brain injury. Carolyn Rocchio of the Brain Injury Association says the following about traumatic brain injury:
“Hearing problems can occur for a number of reasons, both mechanical and neurologic, particularly when the inner ear and/or temporal lobes have been damaged. All patients should have an otoscopic examination and hearing screening followed by behavioral testing. External bleeding in the ear canal, middle ear damage, cochlear injury, and/or temporal lobe lesions can cause auditory dysfunction.” (Rocchio, 1998)
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/534833
Diagnostic tests are needed from an Audiologist and ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor to determine the cause of hearing loss. The hearing tests could include one or more the following:
- Audiogram – This test presents a series of frequencies from low to high pitches.
- Speech Testing – This test looks at how well words are listened to and repeated.
- Tympanometry – This test evaluates the middle ear function and stiffness of the eardrum.
- ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) – This test measures the timing of electrical waves from the brainstem to clicks in the ear.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs) – This test evaluates the sounds given off by the inner ear when responding to a sound.
- Electrocochleography (ECOG) – This test identifies cochlear nerve issues and Meniere’s disease.
Article Source: https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Otoacoustic-Emissions/
Some Audiologists perform Auditory Processing (CAPD) Tests. However, not every audiologist formally acknowledges CAPD. Explanations about different CAPD Tests are included in the following link: https://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/apd-in-children-time-compressed-11953
With information from the diagnostic tests, Audiologists identify the source of the hearing issue:
- Tinnitus occurs when there’s buzzing, ringing, or hissing in the ears.
- Hyperacusis (i.e. noise sensitivity) occurs when a sound is uncomfortable.
- Meniere’s Syndrome occurs there’s excessive pressure on the inner ear.
- Auditory Agnosia (i.e. CAPD) occurs when there’s a problem in distinguishing sounds.
A treatment plan will be made which could include hearing devices, Bluetooth devices, telephones, FM systems, and/or speech therapy.
Go out today and thank SPLs & Audiologists for the special work they do in helping brain injury survivors communicate….
~Megan, BIND Member