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"What should I do about language trouble?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat should I do about language trouble?

Question

I am a 19 year-old female and I weight about 118 lbs. A few weeks ago I crashed my bike into the side of a van and received a concussion from the incident. I did not receive any medical treatment and was able to bike home three miles away. Now I have noticed since the accident that I am using the wrong word in conversation and if I am not constantly checking, I will use the wrong word when I type. For example, yesterday I hurt my left hand whilst biking and I tried to tell my dad that I thought I broke my hand, but he heard me say that I thought I broke my neck. In the past I would occasionally use the wrong word, but now it's happening on a daily basis. What do you advise?

Answer

I would strongly recommend that you see your doctor. This is a worrisome symptom. If you feel a decline or worsening symptom, this may even require an emergent visit to the emergency room. To state the obvious, the brain is a vital organ. It works through a combination of sophisticated interactions on the mechanical and electrical level. Any small damage can cause significant problems with various motor, thought, sensory or language function. You are describing a verbal paraphasic error -- which is when one word is substituted for another. This requires evaluation. You should be evaluated after any head trauma. While a concussion is possible, there are other possibilities that are more dangerous. A bleed in the brain is one of the feared complications. For example, a subdural hematoma is when blood slowly builds up around the brain and compresses it. Another possibility is a CONTUSION of the brain -- which is essentially a bruise of the brain. A concussion is a diagnosis of exclusion -- which means we have to rule out these other bad symptoms. While it is very possible that this is a symptoms of a concussion that will resolve, this needs to be addressed in order to make sure there are not any other worrisome causes. Good luck!

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