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The Best Speech Therapy Activities for TBI Patients (With Videos!)

list of tbi speech therapy activities

One of the effects of traumatic brain injury is the difficulties it may cause to a person’s language skills.

This often results in aphasia after TBI, and it may manifest in many different forms. From weakening of the facial muscles used to form words to damaging higher-level cognitive functions that you need to communicate, a TBI can impact how you verbally connect with others.

Speech therapists have developed techniques to regain these abilities through special TBI Speech therapy activities.

To help you recover your speech, this article will provide step-by-step instructions for some of the best speech therapy activities for TBI patients.

Speech Therapy Activities for TBI

Before we provide specific TBI Speech therapy activities, it helps to understand how speech works. How do we translate the thoughts in our minds into words that others can understand?

On the physical level, speaking involves air passing through your vocal cords to produce sound, which your mouth then forms into words.

But to perform this seemingly simple action requires a concerted effort from several different areas of your brain. During a conversation, your brain must:

  • Coordinate facial muscles to form words and swallow at the right time
  • Listen and pay attention to what the other person is saying
  • Process facial expressions and body language
  • Recall what the person said and produce the right words in response

Depending on which area of your brain is injured, one or all of these skills could be affected. That’s why it’s important to identify which speech skills are impaired, so you can focus on specific Speech therapy activities for recovery.

Listed below are some of the best TBI Speech therapy activities that may help you recover communication skills. Most of these will be focused on improving facial muscle coordination.

Facial Strengthening Speech Therapy Activities

When a TBI damages the nerves that control facial muscles, individuals may start to slur their words.

This condition is known as dysarthria, and it can be challenging to deal with. The most effective way to overcome dysarthria is to retrain your muscles through facial strengthening activities.

The following are a few easy facial strengthening exercises that you can do at home.

1. “Pucker Up!”

For this exercise, you just need to pucker your lips like you are going to give someone a kiss. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Next, pucker your lips again, but this time move your lips from one side to the other while still holding the pucker. Repeat 10 times. Try not to move your tongue.

Finally, close your lips tightly, and say “” then “p…p…p” then “b…b..b”

2. Cheek Puff

Take a deep breath through your nose and puff your cheeks out. Hold the air in your cheeks for 5 seconds. Exhale slowly. Repeat 10 times.

Next, take another deep breath, but this time only hold the air in your left cheek, then move the air to only your right cheek. Repeat 10 times.

If you’d like to see some of these exercises in action, below is a video demonstration from a Speech therapist.

3. Tongue Strengthening

For these activities, you will need a flat wooden stick, such as a popsicle stick or tongue depressor, to push your tongue against. You might want someone to assist you to prevent any choking incidents.

Stick your tongue straight out. Press tip of tongue against the flat stick 2 or 3 times. Then press the stick in towards your mouth while pushing your tongue hard against the stick as if you are trying to force it away. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Next, place the stick on the top of your tongue and press down like a doctor does when examining your throat. Then push your tongue up against the stick while you continue to press the stick down. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Here is another video demonstration of these activities, with an additional exercises:

Speech Therapy Activities for Apraxia after TBI

Another language disorder that you might experience after TBI is called Apraxia of Speech.

People with apraxia have a difficult time pronouncing and sequencing words. The problem lies in miscommunication between the brain and facial muscles, making it difficult to coordinate movement.

To treat apraxia, Speech therapists often use articulation exercises that can range from easy to challenging, depending on the severity of the apraxia. The goal of these exercises is to retrain your brain to coordinate muscle movement correctly.

Here are some example of articulation exercises that you can practice .

4. Lip Articulation Exercises

  • Look into a mirror so you can see how your lips move. Now say “ooo” while forming your lips into an O shape. Then say “eee” while forming your lips into a smile. Finally, combine the two and say “ooo-eee.” Repeat 10 times.
  • Next say “puh” and try to make a popping sound with your lips.
  • Finally, drink some water through a straw. Drinking through a straw requires coordinated movement between your lips, cheeks, and tongue, which makes it a great activity for apraxia patients.

5. Tongue Articulation Exercises

These are similar to the tongue strengthening exercises for dysarthria, except instead of strengthening the tongue muscle we’re focusing on improving movement.

  • Say “lalalala” without moving your jaw. Only move the tip of your tongue. Rest and repeat 10 times.
  • Place the tip of your tongue right behind your upper front teeth. Hold it there as long as you can. Slowly work up to three minutes.
  • Say “t-d-n” to practice making consonant sounds with the tip of your tongue.
  • Open your mouth and form an O shape with your lips. Put your tongue on the left corner of your lip and trace your tongue all the way around your lips. Once you complete the circle, go the other direction. Don’t move your jaw, you want your tongue doing all the work.

6. Coordination Exercises

Once you have practiced articulation exercises, you are ready to put everything together and start coordination exercises. Some coordination exercises you can use are:

  • Say “buttercup” 5 times in a row, then say “rocket ship” 5 times. These words work your lips, the tip of your tongue, and the back of your tongue.
  • Say “puh tuh kuh” three times. Start slow then gradually increase your speed.

When to See a Speech Therapist

The activities listed above are just a few of the techniques that are commonly used during Speech therapy sessions.

While it is possible to do these exercises at home, for the most effective result, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a Speech therapist.

Speech therapists are trained to deal with all types of language disorders you might experience after a TBI and may develop a personalized training program to target your specific needs.

They may also teach you more intensive speech therapy activities, such as Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy and singing therapy, which are used to treat more severe forms of aphasia.

How to Get the Most Benefit from TBI Speech Therapy Activities

Whether you decide to work with a Speech therapist or do these activities on your own, the most effective way for you to make the greatest improvements in your speech is through massed practice.

Massed practice allows you to trigger your brain’s neuroplasticity, which may help your brain relearn how to use your muscles to form words correctly!

To gain the most benefits from these Speech therapy activities, practice the exercises several times a day.

With practice and determination, you’ll begin to make improvements, and eventually regain your ability to speak.

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Do you want to sharpen your cognitive skills after a TBI?

Time with a speech therapist is extremely valuable during recovery, especially if you struggle with communication, critical thinking, or memory after brain injury. Insurance typically covers speech therapy for a fixed amount of time. But once it’s over, recovery is in your hands.

That’s why a team of neuroscientists and clinicians from Boston University created the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy app. Designed for those recovering from stroke, TBI, or living with neurological conditions, the app contains over 100,000 cognitive exercises that are all available right from your phone or tablet. That’s like having a speech therapist by your side whenever you want!

This app is the perfect fit if you want to improve your speaking, memory, or general mental sharpness. And, it’s affordable at just $29.99/month!

Click here to learn more about the CT app

See what Miriam said about the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy app:

“For the past 6 months, my son has used the app about three times a week. The app is like a virtual therapist, it’s very easy to use, and it gives him immediate feedback.

He now understands things faster, can make decisions with less hesitation, has improved recognition of words, and his confidence is higher. I also find it easy to get in touch with customer service; they pleasantly help out. The whole experience has been great.”

— Miriam

It’s like having a virtual speech therapist available anytime you want

With the CT App, you can get the guidance you need right from your phone or tablet. You can use it on your own or in between sessions with your speech therapist.

Whether you struggle with aphasia, memory loss, or critical thinking, the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy App can help.

“The CT app has helped me gather my confidence by building on and reinforcing old forgotten skills. It helps to see my percentages increase, and work harder when they decrease. It’s very self-motivating.” -Kathryn

We are confident that this app will help improve your speech and cognitive function after brain injury. Like our recovery tools, the CT App is also covered by our 30-day money-back guarantee.

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