Slow-to-Recover Brain-Injured Patients Rationale for Treatment Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1991
Slow-to-Recover Brain-Injured Patients
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Barbara J. Ansell
    University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  • Requests for reprints should be sent to Barbara J. Ansell, PhD, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Communication Disorders Program, Oshkosh, Wl 54901.
Article Information
Development / Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1991
Slow-to-Recover Brain-Injured Patients
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1991, Vol. 34, 1017-1022. doi:10.1044/jshr.3405.1017
History: Received June 18, 1990 , Accepted January 22, 1991
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1991, Vol. 34, 1017-1022. doi:10.1044/jshr.3405.1017
History: Received June 18, 1990; Accepted January 22, 1991

Approximately 10–20% of head injury survivors sustain extensive neurological damage and remain minimally or inconsistently responsive to stimuli for 3–6 months postinjury. These patients, designated as slow to recover (STR), may be candidates for sensory stimulation programs rather than traditional rehabilitation. Medical and insurance personnel have resisted referral and payment for treatment because of the lack of objective measures of progress, a theoretical basis for treatment, and evidence of treatment efficacy. A valid, reliable assessment tool has recently been developed (Western Neuro Sensory Stimulation Profile) that assesses low-level cognitive/communicative function and documents improvement in STR patients. This article addresses the theoretical rationale for treatment. Evidence from four areas—sensory deprivation, enriched environments, nervous system plasticity, and sensitive periods of neurodevelopment— suggests that sensory stimulation programs are potentially beneficial for STR patients. Speech-language pathologists are encouraged to study the recovery patterns of STR patients and to determine the efficacy of treatment strategies.

Acknowledgments
The author wishes to thank Dr. Malcolm McNeil and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Portions of this paper were presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, St. Louis, MO, November 1989. This research was supported in part by the Western Neuro Care Center, a subsidiary of Continental Medical Systems, Inc., and the Faculty Development Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
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