Family Caregivers: Why They Are Important During Recovery From Traumatic Brain Injury

Article by Moody Neuro

There are many tools that help survivors recover from their traumatic brain injury. But one of the most important tools for recovery is something no hospital in the world can offer: family caregivers.

Being familiar with a survivor’s personality and habits, before the injury occurred, gives family caregivers a unique advantage to care for a traumatic brain injury. 

Not only do family members offer elevated comfort and support, but they are also more likely to notice nuances in behavior that may be missed by medical professionals. 

Whether it’s the cadence in which they speak, the swagger in their step, or the deep exhales of frustration… Having a caregiver who recognizes these characteristics can drastically influence the recovery process.

These subtle changes may be a temporary side effect or could be a sign of something much more serious. What’s important is they notice, track, and bring these changes to the doctor’s attention. The sooner their doctor is made aware of differences in behavior, personality, or functionality, the sooner the doctor can make any adjustments to prescriptions (and overall treatment if needed).

The Importance Of Family Caregivers

There are 3 reasons why family caregivers are important to those recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

They Lessen Survivors’ Shock

Family caregivers often experience shock when they first hear that their family member incurred a traumatic brain injury. On the other side, survivors are probably experiencing exactly the same feeling.

Survivors are reminded of their traumatic brain injury constantly throughout each day. A drastic change to daily life is difficult for survivors. Not being able to remember something, or do certain things, may seem like a hopefully short term side effect to a caregiver. 

To a survivor, not being able to accomplish these seemingly “easy” tasks can be infuriating and isolating. 

The waves of emotions felt by survivors can change rapidly or extend over long periods of time. All people are different – as are their recoveries. Caregivers witness these highs and lows – often needing to think quickly on their feet. The compassion shown to survivors can be the difference to their day, year, or perhaps even the entire scope of recovery. 

Having a family caregiver by their side to respond to the event can lessen the shock and help everyone feel less alone.

They’re First To Notice Important Symptoms

Sometimes, individuals with a traumatic brain injury can experience late-onset, nonconvulsive seizures. The symptoms are very subtle and can easily be missed by health care professionals, including any of the following:

  • Restless pacing
  • Random, purposeless activity 
  • Complaints of foul odors
  • Greater sensitivity to light and sound
  • Hallucinations

Often, family caregivers are the first to notice these out-of-character behaviors. Catching the symptoms early means that survivors can get evaluated and treated for silent seizures more quickly. 

They Help Survivors Cope

A survivor may not be fully aware of the impact of their injuries until they return home and try to resume old routines. Suddenly, they might have trouble going about their day as they used to. 

For instance, some brain injury survivors find it more difficult to organize and initiate their day to day activities. But family caregivers can help survivors cope with these new challenges by:

  • Organizing spaces at home
  • Providing choices about activities
  • Offering motivation in response to frustration

This means survivors will spend less time fixated on what they can no longer do. Instead, they will focus on coping with their new reality and moving forward with their lives.

Resources For Family Caregivers


It’s no secret that family caregivers take on an enormous load. It’s only natural that these beacons of strength will feel overwhelmed or burnt out at times

As experts in brain rehabilitation, we have witnessed the burden felt by caregivers. We encourage all family caregivers to take advantage of our resources and to make sure they take the time to care for themselves as well.

Join A Support Group

Being in a position to care for a loved one comes with its own challenges. Caregivers often feel high levels of stress while simultaneously putting on a brave comforting face for those in their care. This is no easy feat. 

It is important for caregivers to also care for themselves and know that they are not alone. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Whether your motivation for self-care is to help yourself cope or to help you be a better caregiver, you must remember to replenish your own resources to continue providing the care you give. Support groups are an excellent resource to help you. 

Communicating with others facing similar struggles and learning new coping skills can be a rewarding experience that helps caregivers feel stronger and better prepared for the tasks at hand.

Connect With Others Over Social Media

Connecting with others can feel daunting for a new or overextended caregiver. Especially in this time of quarantining, meeting with new people may not be an option for everyone. 

Social media is a powerful resource for anyone looking to connect with a niche group of people. A great place to start connecting virtually is through Moody Neuro’s Instagram and Facebook pages. 

Seek Out Resources

Stay connected through the Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute blog. Both survivors and caregivers benefit from reading our blogs. 

We offer a unique perspective to help you better understand what your survivor is going through internally. Nuances in behavior patterns could be a sign of a deeper issue. Not only is their body and mind recovering, but their sense of identity may be challenged due to depression and other unfortunate side effects of a traumatic brain injury. 

Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge offered in our blogs.

Family Caregivers Change The World

Family caregiving can make a huge difference in the lives of so many survivors. In fact, Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute was formed out of the love of a father for his son. After his son Russell’s accident, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury, Robert L. Moody, Sr. recognized a need for brain injury rehabilitation resources. 

Today, Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute has four Texas locations. Each patient receives the highest level of quality care. 

The partnership to recovery between medical professionals and family caregivers is unparalleled. It is not always an easy road, but it can be a crucial part of a loved one’s recovery. 

Strokes are medical conditions that affect millions globally. In the United States, more than 795,000 people have a stroke each year, with about 610,000 cases being first or new strokes. 

These can lead to a wide range of physical and cognitive impairments. Speech and language disorders are among the most common and most challenging consequences of strokes, occurring in about a third of stroke survivors. 

Understanding Stroke-Induced Speech & Language Disorders

Stroke-induced speech and language disorders significantly impact communication abilities. Among these, aphasia, dysarthria, and apraxia of speech are prevalent. Understanding how they are diagnosed and their specific symptoms can aid in prompt and effective management.


Aphasia is a common outcome of stroke, manifesting as difficulty in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. There are many different types of aphasia, depending on the affected brain area, and are categorized based on the symptoms present:

  • Expressive Aphasia (Broca’s Aphasia): Characterized by broken speech, limited vocabulary, and difficulty forming complete sentences. Patients often understand what is being said to them but struggle to verbalize responses.
  • Receptive Aphasia (Wernicke’s Aphasia): Patients can produce fluent speech but may lack meaning or include nonsensical words. They often have significant difficulty understanding spoken language.
  • Global Aphasia: A severe form of aphasia where individuals have extensive difficulties with both speech production and comprehension.
  • Anomic Aphasia: Individuals have difficulty finding words, particularly nouns and verbs, making their speech sound vague.


Dysarthria is a speech disorder that affects 20-30% of stroke survivors. It occurs when stroke impacts the muscles responsible for speech, leading to slurred or slow speech that can be hard to understand. It is typically diagnosed through a physical examination and a series of speech evaluations conducted by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). 

It is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand
  • Monotone or robotic-sounding speech
  • Difficulty controlling the volume of speech, which may be too loud or too soft
  • Challenges with the rhythm and flow of speech, including rapid speech that’s hard to interrupt or slow, drawn-out speech
  • Respiratory issues affecting the ability to speak loudly or for extended periods

Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

Apraxia of speech is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty sequencing the movements needed for speech. This is caused by the impact of the stroke on the brain’s pathways involved in producing speech. 

Patients with AOS know what they want to say but struggle to coordinate the muscle movements to articulate words correctly. This results in distorted speech, difficulty initiating speech, or the inability to accurately produce speech sounds or sequences of sounds. 

How Long Is the Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Time?

According to one study on post-stroke speech and language therapy, approximately one-third of stroke patients experience speech problems after a stroke. Many of these individuals begin to recover within a few months, with significant progress typically observed within three to six months.

In another study, 62% of subjects had speech challenges after suffering from a stroke. By six months post-stroke, 74% were able to completely recover their communication abilities. 

However, the figures above provide a general timeline for post-stroke speech and language recovery. Stroke speech recovery time is highly individualized and can vary depending on several factors. These can include the following:

  • Severity of the Stroke: More severe strokes often lead to extensive brain damage, resulting in longer and more challenging recovery periods for speech.
  • Location of the Brain Injury: The brain’s specific regions control different speech and language functions; damage to these areas directly impacts recovery complexity and duration.
  • Age and Overall Health of the Patient: Generally, younger patients with better overall health before the stroke tend to experience faster and more complete recoveries.
  • Pre-existing Conditions and Comorbidities: Conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can slow down recovery by complicating the overall health scenario and rehabilitation process.
  • Individual Variability and Resilience: Personal resilience, the support system’s strength, and the individual’s motivation significantly influence the pace and success of speech recovery efforts.

The first three months after a stroke is a crucial period for recovery, as a majority of stroke patients see the most significant improvement during this period. However, it’s also important to note that, although at a slower pace, recovery can continue well past the 6-month mark with continued therapy and practice. 

This underpins the importance of early intervention and ongoing rehabilitation efforts, including speech therapy, to maximize each patient’s recovery potential. 

What Does the Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Process Look Like?

The journey to regain speech and language after a stroke is multifaceted and varies significantly from one individual to another. Understanding the structured phases of recovery can provide insight into what patients and their families can expect during this challenging time. 

Here’s a closer examination of each phase in the stroke speech recovery process.

Initial Assessment and Diagnosis

Before recovery can begin, a thorough evaluation is conducted by a team of healthcare professionals led by an SLP. This assessment aims to identify the type and severity of the speech and language disorder, be it aphasia, dysarthria, or AOS. The evaluation may include cognitive-linguistic assessments, comprehension tests, speech production analysis, and functional communication measures. 

Based on this assessment, a personalized therapy plan is crafted to address the patient’s specific needs.

Acute Phase

The acute phase typically occurs within the first days to weeks following a stroke. During this period, medical stabilization is the primary focus, with healthcare teams working to manage the immediate effects of the stroke. 

Speech therapy may begin with simple exercises or assessments to gauge the patient’s abilities. However, intensive therapy usually does not start until the patient is medically stable. During the acute phase, the goal is to support overall recovery and prevent complications immediately after the stroke.

Subacute Phase

The subacute phase generally spans from two weeks to three months post-stroke and is characterized by more intensive speech therapy interventions. As the patient’s medical condition stabilizes, the focus shifts to active rehabilitation. Therapy during this phase is tailored to the individual’s specific speech and language deficits and may include:

  • Exercises to improve articulation, fluency, and voice control for those with dysarthria.
  • Language therapy to enhance understanding, speaking, reading, and writing skills in patients with aphasia.
  • Motor speech exercises and strategies to improve speech planning and production in apraxia of speech.

The subacute phase is crucial for taking advantage of the brain’s natural recovery processes and neuroplasticity, where the brain begins reorganizing and adapting to the loss of function.

Chronic Phase

The chronic phase of recovery extends from several months to years after the stroke. It focuses on long-term rehabilitation and adjustment to any residual speech deficits. During this time, patients may continue to see gradual improvements in their speech and language abilities, although the rate of recovery may slow. Therapy in the chronic phase often includes:

  • Advanced communication strategies to cope with ongoing challenges in daily life.
  • Maintenance exercises to preserve and enhance speech gains achieved in earlier phases.
  • Supportive technologies and aids, such as communication devices, to assist in effective communication.
  • Community reintegration activities to help patients return to as normal a life as possible, engaging in social, vocational, or recreational activities.

What Is the Role of Neuroplasticity in Speech & Language Recovery?

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s fundamental property to change and adapt its responses to new experiences, learning, and environmental changes. This adaptive capacity enables the brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.

When the brain, or a part of the brain, is damaged after a stroke, neuroplasticity is what allows the other parts of the brain to take over the functions of the damaged area. Through targeted rehabilitation and therapy, such as speech therapy for stroke survivors, patients can retrain other brain areas to perform the lost functions and facilitate recovery.

Enhancing Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Time

Adopting a comprehensive approach involving several key strategies is vital to enhance the stroke speech and language recovery time. This multifaceted approach can maximize the chances of regaining speech and communication abilities.

This comprehensive approach must incorporate the following strategies:

  • Early intervention to leverage the brain’s highest potential for neuroplasticity in the initial period following a stroke, significantly improving the chances for recovery.
  • Alternative communication strategies, such as gestures, writing, and visual aids, to help maintain communication during the recovery process. 
  • Adopting technology, including speech-generating devices and software applications designed for speech rehabilitation, for personalized exercises and continuous practice, which is vital for progress.
  • Providing continuous support from psychologists, support groups, and therapy to help manage feelings of frustration, depression, and anxiety, fostering a positive mindset essential for rehabilitation.
  • A healthy diet and lifestyle to supply essential nutrients that support brain function, along with regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and management of medical conditions.

Begin Your Post-Stroke Recovery Journey With Moody Neurorehabilitation

Moody Neurorehabilitation understands the complexities and challenges that come with post-stroke rehabilitation. We are dedicated to supporting patients and their families through this critical time with specialized care and personalized treatment plans.

Since our inception in 1982, Moody Neurorehabilitation has been a leader in brain injury rehabilitation. Our approach centers on providing comprehensive care tailored to each patient’s needs and goals. We believe in treating the whole person, not just the symptoms, to improve overall quality of life.

We invite you to start your recovery journey with us. Contact Moody Neurorehabilitation today to schedule a consultation with our experts. Let us help you navigate the path to recovery with care, compassion, and expertise.