The Sound of Brain Injury by Mike Strand

How Does Brain Injury Sound?

by Mike Strand

My speech changed with my brain injury

Where did my perfect speech go?

Where did my perfect speech go?

About a year after my accident, somebody had a video camera at my birthday party (this was 1990, so it wasn’t that common yet). For the first time, I got to hear myself speak. I was shocked! I had no idea that I had any kind of speech difficulty. My speech was slow and slurred and very hard to understand. I didn’t speak in anything beyond one or two word utterances.

Thus began my first self-directed critical task since leaving rehab.

Speech was always very important to me. I had always taken pride in speaking with clarity and eloquence and I assumed I still did. Of course, like with so many of the effects of brain injury, I had no idea that was a problem. So with great intent and effort I spent the next few years improving my speech. Eventually I got to the point where people would say, “Gee, you don’t sound brain injured.” That really meant a lot. I worked so hard at speaking clearly. I still have to work at it after nearly thirty years!

So I was shocked when I heard myself being interviewed for a radio show. I have been so focused on pronunciation that I thought I was speaking clearly during this interview. I was speaking clearly, but I spoke in short partial sentences and frequently left off the last words of the sentence. I was trying to think ahead to what I would say next, and since I don’t multi task very well, I stopped speaking while I formed the next sentence in my head. Fortunately, the interviewer stepped up and filled in for me, but it was still very hard to listen to.

So now I have another thing to work on and be attentive to while speaking. I don’t seem to have this problem when giving speeches, only when responding to questions. Sometimes in regular conversation as well.

Every day is different. I guess I’m almost perfect, just one more thing…

Mike Strand newest book is Final Refections on Brain Injury.


5 responses to “The Sound of Brain Injury by Mike Strand”

  1. Michael C Strand says:

    Thanks for the reply Marilyn. Listening to a recording of your voice is a great technique, but be prepared for a shock! Know that I am cheering you on, I know how tough it is.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Thank you for sharing specifics of your articulation in your brain-healing journey. Guess I’m not alone. Good to know. So good. I’m going to record myself explaining something. I’ve noticed people seem to be in deep thought when I speak. Deeper than usual. That has to be a clue. Ha. I forget the ‘punch line’ when I’m trying to teach a concept. I think ‘unfinished sentence’ describes that pretty well. I feel so embarrassed and a bit panicky when it happens in a group…there’s just no getting the completion of the concept back during that conversation. I’ve also tried the talking-fast strategy. Same outcome. My injury happened 10 months ago. I’ve recently felt the energy to attend a few friend gatherings again. They don’t understand. And I can’t seem to explain my brain injury issues coherently. Just find myself retreating…avoiding people. I’m searching for a way to explain my injury that will result in some supporters and perhaps even cheerleaders.
    I appreciate materials I’ve ordered from this site and I’ll be checking back to read this blog again.

  3. Mike Strand says:

    Thanks to both of you for the replies! Much like speaking, it’s hard to Guage if what I write is what people read.

  4. Robert Demichelis II says:

    Very poignant experience highlighting the continual challenges of recovery, i.e., of the process (healing does take time), outcomes/goals and one’s own awareness. 36 years post, I continue to have similar experiences, tho my dysarthia, apraxia, slurred speech have substantially subsided, the challenges with articulation, what appears to be a permanent stutter, and, common amoungst our peer group, under stress my speech is always nearly incomprehensible.
    I hope someone designs an experiment which can answer the question of unfinished sentences.
    In retrospect, given the many concurrent cognitive challenges post brain injury, I heard the sentence I formed in my mind instead of the words I spoke?! 2nd, I had to talk so fast before I forgot what I was going to say that perhaps I thought I said them ….

  5. Rosemary Rawlins says:

    This is wonderful, Mike and such a great strategy to use–to listen to a recording of yourself speaking. Thanks for the insight and tip.

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