Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an acquired condition that occurs when the brain is damaged as the result of an injury. Often the result of a violent blow or a jolt to the head in which the brain collides with the inside of the skull, traumatic brain injuries are common. Less common is traumatic brain injury resulting from an object penetrating the skull and the brain.
Symptoms of TBI can range from mild to severe, and the severity of any disability that may result from a TBI can range as well. At times, communication difficulties arise as the result of TBI. These communication challenges may vary dramatically from person-to-person depending upon the area of the brain that is damaged and how severe that damage is.
How can AAC benefit someone with Traumatic Brain Injury?
While the majority of individuals who sustain TBIs recover without any residual challenges, those who sustain severe TBIs may be left with communication and cognitive challenges that require temporary or permanent support for the individual to successfully communicate and achieve a greater degree of independence.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies like communication devices can help the individual by bridging any communication gaps that arise as a result of the TBI. It is important to note that communication devices do not replace other methods of effect communication, rather they become an important tool in a complete communication system and replace only those elements of communication that are ineffective!
Communication devices give the individual the ability to effectively speak his mind, take an active role in communicating with others, direct personal care, and connect with others. Communication can easily be achieved in face-to-face situations, by phone, online and by e-mail.
While communication devices are often needed on a permanent basis, they can be introduced temporarily to support the individual as he recovers communication and cognitive skills. At times communication devices can be used to “draw out” the individual and give him the motivation to begin communicating with others.
Communication devices also provide a variety of tools that support the individual cognitively. Alarms and schedules can be programmed into the device to remind the individual of appointments, when medications are due, when to pay the bills, and tasks that need to be done each day. Directions for how to do tasks or how to get from one location to another can also be programmed into the communication device to provide further support.
Some communication devices include tools such as built-in universal remote controls that allow individuals with physical disabilities to easily control TVs, DVD players and other common household appliances equipped with infrared remote controllers or X-10 modules.
In short, robust communication devices provide the tools needed to help every individual with TBI be as independent as possible!