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Adults in Washington may acquire apraxia of speech after having a stroke or sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Apraxia of speech is a condition that affects a person’s ability to produce certain sounds. Although people who suffer from apraxia may be perfectly aware of what words sound like, their brains are unable to tell the right muscles how to move in order to say the words correctly.

Apraxia cases can range in severity, with the most severe cases causing people to be unable to produce any sounds at all. Most people with apraxia have a hard time producing certain sounds, so they either omit or substitute these sounds in their speech. A person with apraxia might have inconsistent speech errors and have an easier time producing automatic greetings than words that they are thinking about.

A speech therapist diagnoses a person with apraxia of speech by assessing their sound production, melody of speech and oral-motor abilities. Once this condition is diagnosed, an individual with apraxia might benefit from speech therapy that is designed to retrain their facial muscles. People with severe cases of apraxia might require alternative communication tools in order to function in their daily lives.

Washington residents may have heard a lot about traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, in recent years. From the shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to lawsuits over repeated concussions suffered by NFL players, TBIs have been all over the news.

The extra attention is helpful because the Centers for Disease Control reports that TBIs are a major cause of disability and death in the United States. In 2010, around 2.5 million emergency room visits, hospital stays or deaths were tied to TBIs, and the condition played a part in approximately 30 percent of all injury deaths in the country.

TBIs can occur due to a blow or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury, such as a gunshot wound, that interrupts a person’s normal brain function. TBIs can be mild, meaning a person may feel dizzy or briefly lose consciousness, or severe, meaning a person may be unconscious for a long period of time or experience significant memory loss. Most TBIs reported are mild and are referred to as concussions.

As doctors and scientists learn more about how our brains work and heal after an injury, attempts are continuously being made to find ways to treat serious injuries to the organ such as traumatic brain injuries. These injuries happen to people throughout the nation, including Seattle, Washington, and are the result of many different types of accidents. While some people appear to recover from brain injuries without any lasting effects, others don’t fare as well and in some cases may contend with symptoms for the rest of their lives. Because of this studies of various treatment methods are routinely conducted.

A study recently conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon, explored the use of a hyperbaric chamber to treat those suffering from mild TBI. Symptoms that accompany mild TBI include sensitivity to light, headaches and deficits in one’s ability to problem-solve. The subjects involved in the study were Marines. Each of the 60 participants had mild TBI as a result of injurious incidents that occurred while deployed, such as roadside bombs.

The Marines were split into two groups with one group serving as the control group and the other receiving different levels of pressurized oxygen. The hope was that the inhalation of pressurized oxygen would increase the amount of oxygen in the brain of the injured person, aiding damaged cells. In turn, it was thought that brain function may improve. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be what happened. No difference was recorded between the two groups.

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