Reading after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be difficult and stressful. Fortunately, there are lots of reading tools that can make the process easier.
Reading after a TBI
A possible side effect from suffering a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can be difficulty reading after the injury has occurred. The degree of the problem will, of course, depend on the kind of injury the patient has suffered and its severity, and so will the treatment—which is why professional assessment is mandatory.
Some of the potential reading comprehension difficulties and communication disorders that come as a result of head trauma include, but are not limited to, dyslexia, alexia, aphasia, and post-trauma vision syndrome (PTVS). While there is no known cure for some of these problems, such a dyslexia most of these conditions can be managed and worked around with the help of reading aids such as text to speech tools.
What is a TBI
The brain is a complex organ. In fact, it is one of the most complex things in nature as far as we know, and it is responsible for virtually all of our most important functions. Senses, motor skills, thoughts, emotions, memory, neuro and cognitive processing—the brain is in charge of it all.
Naturally, since the brain is responsible for so many of our vital functions, it is no surprise that any kind of damage to it can pose a serious health problem. The types of brain injuries are manifold, but we’ll focus only on one type for the sake of brevity: traumatic or intracranial brain injuries.
TBIs are a subcategory of acquired brain injuries, which comprise all kinds of brain damage that come as a result of events after a person has been born. In other words, they do not have roots in genetic disorders, so they are not comparable to, say, fetal alcohol syndrome.
In short, TBIs are a result of an injury to the head by an external force. These injuries can fall anywhere on the severity scale, meaning they can range from mild to even fatal. Side effects of a TBI can include dizziness, loss of balance, impaired motor skills, speech impediments, poor visual processing due to visual field loss or double vision, nausea, communication problems, difficulty problem-solving, and, of course, reading problems.
Tools to assist those who suffer from TBI
TBIs are among the most common causes of disabilities in the world. Therefore, it’s important to learn more about TBIs and learn how to better assist those who may have suffered them. While professional diagnosis from a clinician is mandatory in order to receive proper treatment for the effects of a TBI, there are also plenty of non-clinical ways to improve quality of life for people who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. Some of the most helpful tools are text to speech (TTS) programs.
Reading is a great cognitive exercise, and it can be quite therapeutic. Unfortunately, impairments to vision and cognitive functions from TBIs can greatly impact a person’s reading skills and overall reading ability. Luckily, just as there are walking aids for those who are not yet ready to stand on their own two feet, there are also many reading assistance tools that can help people with TBIs regain their ability to consume text again, albeit in different ways than before.
This is where text to speech tools, or TTS readers, come in. By transforming text on a page or on a computer into lifelike speech, people who have difficulty reading as a result of a TBI can now listen to anything they would have previously read. Even eye movement is no longer required with the help of TTS readers. You can simply turn them on, close your eyes, and listen with ease.
While there are many options out there when it comes to TTS tools and reading aids, they are, unfortunately, not all of the same quality. Since head injuries are not to be taken lightly, you should always opt for the highest quality assistance tools when dealing with them, which is why we suggest Speechify.
Speechify is a powerful text to speech app specifically designed to be an accessibility aid for people with a wide range of conditions, from reading comprehension conditions like dyslexia to impaired cognitive function from a TBI. However, Speechify can also be used by people who do not have such difficulties and simply prefer to listen to content instead of read it or people who prefer to listen to text while multitasking.
One of the many benefits of Speechify is that it works with a wide variety of languages and accents, and the AI voices are both incredibly lifelike and very customizable. You can even slow down the pace of the reading if your language processing speed has been affected by a TBI.
Furthermore, Speechify works with text of any kind and format, including even being able to turn images into spoken text thanks to its built-in optical character recognition software, or OCR. In other words, even if you do not have your desired text in digital format, you can scan or take pictures of physical pages and turn documents into speech. Whether you need to hear an entire chapter, a line of text, or a single word, Speechify can handle it for you.
Finally, Speechify is available on multiple platforms. Android, iOS, phones, tablets, laptops, or desktop PCs, it doesn’t matter—Speechify is compatible with any computer or smart device, and you can even sync it across platforms to preserve reading progress and maintain your desired settings.
How live a productive life with a brain injury
Recovering from a TBI has its challenges. The most important step is to give yourself time to recover and take things slowly, trust healthcare professionals, and not to push yourself or force the recovery to happen. Some of the most effective strategies for living a productive life after a TBI include:
Being patient and dividing your work into smaller chunks you can handle without your symptoms worsening
Knowing what your priorities are and how to focus on them without overwhelming yourself with unnecessary tasks
Learning to work around certain problems, such as reading difficulties, and not giving up on them
Learning how to rely on others like family members for help when you need it
What are the symptoms of a TBI?
Specific symptoms of TBI vary from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:
Fainting and losing consciousness (even for multiple hours)
Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of sickness
Loss of motor functions and control of limbs (i.e., seizures)
Eye problems (i.e., dilated pupils)
Ear and nose discharge
How long does it take the brain to heal after a TBI?
Much like the symptoms, the recovery process will vary from person to person. However, for most patients, the convalescence period will last somewhere between seven to ninety days. Note that age will be an important factor. For people above 40, the recovery period may be longer. Recovery will also depend on the medical professionals helping you in your journey. For example, if you experience difficulty speaking, seeking speech therapy from a speech therapist can help you regain your speaking abilities quicker than not seeing a specialist.
How can I improve my reading after a traumatic brain injury?
If you’ve suffered a TBI, you might have to relearn how to read. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
Try reading in a quiet place with no distractions
Stay focused and avoid multitasking
Read only one chunk at a time and set small goals for yourself
Try reading larger texts over time, setting new goals slowly and progressively working towards the end goal
Do not overdo it—if you need a break, take one
Seek professional medical assistance whenever you need it or feel like you need it
Follow through with your doctor’s advice—get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and do not skip your medication
Read along with a TTS reader like Speechify