Treatment focuses on maintaining attention for basic activities, reducing confusion, and orienting the person to the date, where he or she is, and what has happened. Later on in recovery, treatment focuses on finding ways to improve memory, learning strategies to help problem solving, reasoning, and organizational skills, working on social skills in small groups, and improving self-monitoring in the hospital, home, and community. Eventually, treatment may include going on community outings to help the person plan, organize, and carry out trips using memory logs, organizers, checklists, and other helpful aids and working with a vocational rehabilitation specialist to help the person get back to work or school. (American Speech and Hearing Association, 2013)
Key Age Groups Served: School-aged through adult
Characteristics of Disability:
Cognition (thinking skills) includes an awareness of one’s surroundings, attention to tasks, memory, reasoning, problem solving, and executive functioning (e.g., goal setting, planning, initiating, self-awareness, self-monitoring and evaluation). Problems vary depending on the location and severity of the injury to the brain and may include the following:
- Trouble concentrating when there are distractions (e.g., carrying on a conversation in a noisy restaurant or working on a few tasks at once).
- Slower processing or “taking in” of new information. Longer messages may have to be “chunked,” or broken down into smaller pieces. The person may have to repeat/rehearse messages to make sure he or she has processed the crucial information. Communication partners may have to slow down their rate of speech.
- Problems with recent memory. New learning can be difficult. Long-term memory for events and things that occurred before the injury, however, is generally unaffected (e.g., the person will remember names of friends and family).
- Executive functioning problems. The person may have trouble starting tasks and setting goals to complete them. Planning and organizing a task is an effort, and it is difficult to self-evaluate work. Individuals often seem disorganized and need the assistance of families and friends. They also may have difficulty solving problems, and they may react impulsively (without thinking first) to situations.