Question: My parents live in India and they recently met with a horrible car accident. My mother passed away and my father was injured badly. Along with some physical injuries (pelvic bone fracture, 3 broken ribs), he had an impact to his head. This impact left him with a minor fracture in his skull with a minor clot. He was admitted to a corporate hospital in India and is being treated for the past 12 days. While rest of the problems are being taken care of, there is one problem that the doctors here are saying only time will heal. The problem as per them is that due to the impact to the left parietal lobe, he lost his dictionary. As a result his listening, speech and comprehension skills are affected. He started speaking about 5 days ago but mostly gibberish. We feel like he is recognising people (at least we are assuming so), but are struggling to communicate to him. I'd be thankful if you can provide some expert advice on this situation. 

Answer: I'm sorry to hear about your parents' accident. It sounds as if your father is suffering from Aphasia, which is a language disorder that can occur after injury to the brain. Aphasia can result in difficulty understanding what others are saying as well as word finding difficulties and speaking. If your father has not been seen by a neurologist, that would be a good starting point. The neurologist can refer your father to rehabilitation experts such as a Physical Therapist and Speech Therapist. You can also contact Purnima Karia (purnimakaria@yahoo.com) who may be able to assist in finding appropriate resources in India.

In the meantime, there are some things that your family can do to maximize your father's comprehension and speech. When speaking to him, keep statements simple and brief. Directions should be kept simple as well, providing only one direction at a time. To improve word finding and speech, try showing him common objects such as hairbrush, phone, etc. and have him name the objects. Additionally, a communication board may help as well. Perhaps printing out pictures of important daily routines such as eating, toileting, etc. and training him to point to the appropriate picture may increase communication.