People with an acquired brain injury
have suffered damage to the brain. This can cause a number of problems, including difficulty communicating. A brain injury will affect each person in different ways, and some may still be able to communicate normally. However, many people experience communication problems such as:
- Difficulty finding the right words to explain what they mean
- Difficulty in understanding what other people are saying
- Difficulties reading or writing
- Physical problems including difficulties gesturing or nodding
- Unintentionally saying offensive or inappropriate things.
Understanding changes in communication after brain injury
You may wonder why your loved one has trouble communicating after their brain injury. There are different factors that might affect their ability to communicate, including:
- Pain. Sometimes people with a brain injury experience pain that limits their ability to concentrate on what you are saying, or makes it difficult for them to talk or move other body parts.
- Tiredness. It is common for people with a brain injury to experience fatigue or tiredness. If someone with a brain injury is tired, they may not feel like communicating.
- Medication. Different medications have different effects, including drowsiness and impaired movement.
- Understanding. Sometimes a brain injury can affect a person’s ability to understand what you are saying.
Make it easy for them
When communicating with someone who has a brain injury, stay relaxed and focussed on what the person is saying. Give the person plenty of time to speak and don’t try and rush things.
- Speak slowly and clearly in plain English
- Turn off the TV or radio and reduce background noise
- Ensure the person can see your face
- Writing down important words or using drawings may help
- Check whether the person has understood you
- Don’t pretend to understand what the person has said. If you don’t understand, apologise and try again later.
If you own an iPhone there are several applications available that may assist you in communicating:
- Proloquo2go (assists people with communicative difficulties)
- iConverse (assists people with communicative difficulties)
- iCommunicate (design visual schedules, flash cards and communication boards)