Author Question: Speech Therapy after Traumatic Brain Injury

Karen Asks:

I’m writing a story about a man who is shot in the head in a way that impacts his ability to speak.  Long months of rehab restore his speech but leave him with a stutter.  Is this feasible?  Which part of the head would he need to be shot in?  What else could be impacted by such a wound?  Can you recommend any websites or resources about gunshot wounds or speech therapy?

Jordyn Says:

Karen– thanks so much for sending me your question.

Generally, the left side of the head is considered to contain the speech centers of the brain–in most cases. It might depend on whether or not your character is right or left handed.

97% of right handed people have their speech centers on the left hemisphere.

19% of left handed people have their speech centers on the right hemisphere– which may be where the phrase “left-handed people are the only ones in their right mind” come from. I LOVE this phrase speaking as a left-handed person.

68% of people have language abilities in BOTH hemisphere.

To read more on these areas– check out this link: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/speechbrain.html
A good case to look into would be former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s. She received a serious gunshot wound to the head and had extensive rehab– over many many months. It might give you an idea of how long the road to recover is for some of these victims. It can be years.

http://www1.uabhealth.org/BoneandJoint/victims-gunshot-head-daunting-road-ahead

http://www.aans.org/en/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Gunshot%20Wound%20Head%20Trauma.aspx

http://www.everydayhealth.com/blog/dr-black-brain-health/the-outlook-for-recovery-from-a-gunshot-wound-to-the-brain/

I think you have a lot of leeway as an author to decide what you want to do after brain injury because we don’t understand as much about the brain as we do other organs. It might be hard to pinpoint sources of “speech therapy after gunshot wound to the head” (which is how I first started to Google your inquiry) but a gunshot wound would be considered a traumatic brain injury so I started to Google that and came up with several other resources as well. Here’s a great You Tube Video that demonstrated a speech therapy session that could be great for a fiction novel.

What else could be impacted? Anything really. Again– you have a lot of leeway here. There could be motor issues as well. Difficulty walking. Difficulty with fine motor skills. To the other extreme which would be coma.

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After creating Christian education curriculum for 25 years and writing over 250 published articles, Karen Wingate has turned her attention toward historical and contemporary fiction.  She lives with her husband and Welsh Corgi in Western Illinois.

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