When Medical Negligence Causes Speech and Communication Difficulties

Communication is a fundamental skill required in almost every aspect of one’s life, from carrying on a conversation to understanding and grasping what others are saying. A person’s ability to communicate is vital to one’s personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, people who suffer brain trauma as a result of medical malpractice often suffer problems with speech, language, processing and understanding information, and overall communication skills.

Some of the ways brain injury survivors are affected with their speech and communication skills include:

  • Woman with tape crossed over her mouthLanguage impairment. Those who have sustained a brain injury may find it difficult to start a conversation, follow a conversation, and understand what others have said. It may seem to some that they are trying to understand a foreign language. Additionally, people with brain injuries will frequently ramble off the topic, talk in circles, and have trouble forming complete sentences. Also, brain injury survivors usually have difficulty with more complex language.  
  • Speech disorders. Some brain injury survivors may experience speech deficits. While some may have trouble producing speech correctly (aphasia), others may find it hard to produce speech clearly due to problems with articulation and pronunciation. As a result, they may slur their speech due to weak muscles (dysarthria). And others may have a hard time programming the oral muscles needed for clear speech (apraxia).
  • Trouble reading written information. Brain injury survivors often have difficulty reading books and other written materials. It may take them longer to read and understand what they are reading. Consequently, they may need more time to read and may need to re-read the information.
  • Writing and spelling troubles. The brain is used to write and spell, which is why many brain injury victims have a hard time spelling and writing as well as they did prior to their injury.
  • Difficulties expressing thoughts. Many brain injury survivors have a hard time expressing thoughts in an organized manner. They also may have a hard time thinking of the correct word they want to use when speaking or writing.
  • Misunderstanding others. Some people who have sustained trauma to the brain find it difficult to determine when someone is joking around or using sarcasm. Additionally, they may have a hard time reading other people’s non-verbal cues such as their body language, tone of voice or facial expressions.
  • Poor social skills. Many brain injury survivors aren’t aware of how to communicate in a social setting. For example, they may forget to take turns in a conversation. They may act inappropriately because they are unaware of what is considered appropriate behavior. As a result, they may find it difficult to make and keep friends and they may embarrass their families.

Because brain injuries can cause these problems, as well as many other issues, many brain injury survivors have trouble with speaking, writing, and comprehending language, making overall communication with others challenging. Because a change in communication can cause problems at home with a spouse, children, and parents, a brain injury victim and his or her family should be compensated accordingly. In addition, communication changes can also cause an inability to work and make the same type of living one did prior to sustaining trauma to the brain.

When someone suffers a brain injury as a result of medical negligence due to a surgical error, labor and delivery error, diagnosing error, anesthesia error, or other medication mishap, a person and his or her family should be able to hold the negligent healthcare worker and/or hospital accountable in an effort to seek justice and just compensation.

For help understanding your rights to a medical malpractice claim, please order a free copy of our book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law. If you have additional questions or if you would like to speak with one of our knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers in a free consultation, please call our office at (703) 591-0067.