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Traumatic brain injury: Effects on speech

What is traumatic brain injury?

Traumatic brain injury (often called TBI) occurs when there is damage to the brain. The injury may or may not result in a loss of consciousness. The effect of traumatic brain injury will differ from person to person. The short- and long-term effects will vary based on severity of the injury, age at the time of injury, and abilities before the injury.

What should I expect?

Effects may include one or more of the following:

  • trouble with word-finding
  • short-term memory loss
  • disorganization of thoughts and speech
  • difficulty understanding information
  • impaired social skills
  • weakness in face muscles
  • trouble producing speech sounds
  • trouble saying words
  • eating and swallowing problems
  • changes in attention
  • mood swings
  • trouble showing emotion
  • impulsiveness (acting before thinking)
  • change in energy level
  • confusion

It is important to remember that your child can continue to have changes with the above effects over time.

What can I do to help my child?

  • Speak slowly and clearly to your child.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Break directions down into smaller steps.
  • Repeat directions as necessary.
  • Allow your child extra time to respond.
  • Allow your child extra time to complete tasks.
  • Let your child rest or nap often.
  • Be patient.
  • Expect frustration for you and your child.
  • Encourage routines and schedules. Try writing the schedule down or drawing it for your child.
  • Avoid distractions (such as TV, radio, clutter).

What else do I need to know?

You and your child may benefit from the services of many different professionals and agencies during recovery, including:

  • child life specialists
  • doctors
  • neuropsychologists
  • occupational therapists
  • physical therapists
  • school and county services
  • speech-language pathologists
  • support groups


This sheet is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the nearest Children's Developmental and Rehabilitation department.

Children's – Minneapolis: 651-220-6000
Children's – St. Paul: 651-220-6880
Children's – Woodbury: 651-232-6860
Children's – Maple Grove: 763-416-8700
Children's – Roseville: 651-638-1670
Children's – Minnetonka: 952-930-8630

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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