Communication involves not only speaking but listening to words, the observation of facial expressions, hand movements and comprehension.
They often will have difficulty in maintaining a topic in conversation, may use an inappropriate tone of voice, i.e.: possibly speak in a belligerent manner; have difficulty determining the difference between a sarcastic remark and a serious comment or have a problem understanding a fast-paced conversation. Others may have difficulty taking their turn in conversations or may not be able to find the correct word to express themselves in either speech or the written word; they may have difficulty understanding not only conversations but with comprehension when reading books or newspapers. Following the story line in a movie may also be hard for them to do. Some may also become overemotional when communicating with others or be unable to respond to another person’s body language.
For others, their thinking skills may have been affected which will in turn, make communication difficult. Memory problems will also affect their communication abilities because the thread of a conversation may be lost. Or they may have trouble concentrating if there are distractions. Their ability to process what others are saying if they speak too quickly may make understanding more difficult as well. Organizing their thoughts and becoming confused easily may hinder communication also. Social situations may become more difficult because of communication problems. In some cases, they may place the blame for these difficulties on the person to whom they are speaking.
Other problems with brain injuries and communication which may exist are: they may have difficulty when given too much information at one time and therefore, have an inability to understand the meaning; have difficulty paying attention when others are speaking; problems following instructions; may take jokes, etc. too literally, or they may repeat the same thing over and over again.
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Difficulties with communication after suffering a brain injury will depend on the severity of the injury and what part of the brain was affected. What can the brain injured sufferer do to help himself/herself?
They can make an effort to remain calm when understanding is a problem; they can ask others to speak more slowly; plan ahead what they want to say; turn off the television and other distractions; repeat what has been said to them to make sure they understand, and ask for an explanation if they don’t.
What can others do to assist someone when communication is a problem? Give them time to speak, don’t make them feel rushed, don’t speak for them, encourage them, don’t force anyone to speak if they are reluctant to do so, use short and simple sentences, don’t interrupt them when they are speaking and include them in general conversations.
Communication is probably one of the most important skills we can possess. Cognitive and memory difficulties can affect communication so it may be necessary to deal with those problems first in order to resolve the communication difficulties. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, the brain injury sufferer will require assistance with his/her communication problems as well.
Ms. Behnish has published ‘Rollercoaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)’, a non-fiction book detailing the difficult year following a brain injury; ‘His Sins’, a three generation family saga about how the actions of one person can affect future generations, and ‘Life’s Challenges, A Short Story Collection’.
She has also written numerous articles for newspapers, magazines and online on subjects relating to brain injuries, family issues, motivational topics and travel.
For more information go to: http://www.progressofabraininjury.blogspot.com
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