Head injuries and strokes: lessons to learn

Working at Boston Specialty Rehabilitation Hospital, my first job, helped me to define my role as a “Speech Pathologist.” One of my greatest success’s while working in rehabilitation, was working with a woman who had suffered a stroke by providing cognitive and reading remediation. While chasing one of my early clients down the halls of the hospital, I wondered was I going to be able to help her. Would she let me? She often told me she was too tired or had a headache. Before her stroke, she loved to read, that was no longer true. She had reoccurring headaches, limited self-awareness, and difficulty problem solving. It was a struggle to get her into therapy. Luckily, with my problem solving, goal oriented abilities and the help of her doctor and physical therapist she did receive therapy. She walked out of the hospital reading, able to do basic problem solving, and more self-aware. Later she returned to thank me for my diligence. What did I learn? Well, when someone does not want to do something that they love, listen carefully to find the underlying problem(s). After her sessions with me, she often had terrible headaches. Early on after a stroke or head injury, headaches are common, but pain relievers are effective. Before each session, she was prescribed a pain reliever. The two most important lessons however, were regarding motivation. Often motivation can be compromised because of very real concerns and the concerns must be addressed if there is any hope of helping. Next, self-awareness is not needed in order to make change, but self-awareness does make it easier to motivate someone. These lessons I incorporate in my work to this day.

Published by Kai Long

Kai currently lives in MA and is interested in collaborating with others to develop a deeper understanding of our speech and language needs.