Traumatic Brain Injuries

How it Affects Children's Language

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

- More common in younger children than adults

- Half a million children go to hospital each year for TBI

- Caused by blow to the head/head getting jolted

- More prevalent in males

- Symptoms include dizziness, sensitivity to light and noise, visual disturbance, vomiting, difficulty with memory, and more

(Mason, 2013) i.e. source is for pie chart also

The Role of a Speech-Language Pathologist

- SLP can assess child to see how brain in functioning with a TBI regarding language and literacy

- The SLP is trained to target most important and widely-used language concepts

- SLP fully understands which skills overlap

- they are trained to improve language skills; early intervention is best

(Haarbauer-Krupa, 2012)

Components of Language and Communication Affected

Areas affected weigh in on academic success.

Many language domains are affected such as:

- Verbal responses (Rousseaux, Verigneaux, & Kozlowksi, 2010)

- Pragmatics

- Syntactic structure (Rousseaux, Vérigneaux, & Kozlowski, 2010)

- memory problems with language (Peach, 2013)

- pausing longer between sentences (Peach, 2013)

- reading comprehension and expressive language (Hanten et al., 2009)

Severity: What it Means

Severity of Traumatic Brain Injuries can range from mild to severe.

Severity correlates with how bad the symptoms are, also relating to the impact during incident.

Mild TBI does not mean symptoms are minor.

TBI at any severity can severely impact a child's language and cognition.

(Mason, 2013)

Age differences and TBI

- The younger the child is at time of TBI, the quicker the recovery

- Along with recovery may be heightened language problems in comparison to older children who developed TBI

- Steady learning of language at young age is important

(Hanten et al., 2009)


Haarbauer-Krupa, J. (2012). Schools as TBI service providers. ASHA Leader, 17(8), 10-13.

Retrieved from


Hanten, G., Xiaoqi, L., Newsome, M. R., Swank, P., Chapman, S. B., Dennis, M., & ... Levin, H. S. (2009). Oral reading and expressive language after childhood traumatic braininjury. Topics In Language Disorders, 29(3), 236-248. doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e3181b531f0

Mason, C. N. (2013). Mild traumatic brain injury in children. Pediatric Nursing, 39(6),

267-282. Retrieved from

Peach, R. (2013). The cognitive basis for sentence planning difficulties in discourse after

traumatic brain injury. American Journal Of Speech-Language Pathology, 22(2), 285-297. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360

Rousseaux, M., Vérigneaux, C., & Kozlowski, O. (2010). An analysis of communication in conversation after severe traumatic brain injury. European Journal Of Neurology, 17(7), 922-929. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2009.02945.x