Thinking Outside the Diagnostic Box: Risk Factors for Cognitive–Communication Impairment Purpose Diagnosing and treating individuals with cognitive–communication disorders can be challenging. It may seem easier to diagnose the disorder if it is associated with a clear event or diagnosis such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Some clinicians may even feel like they are treating the patient ... Article
Article  |   September 27, 2018
Thinking Outside the Diagnostic Box: Risk Factors for Cognitive–Communication Impairment
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Miranda C. Babiak
    Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
  • Disclosures
    Disclosures ×
  • Financial: Miranda C. Babiak has no relevant financial interests to disclose.
    Financial: Miranda C. Babiak has no relevant financial interests to disclose.×
  • Nonfinancial: Miranda C. Babiak has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Miranda C. Babiak has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Part 2
Article   |   September 27, 2018
Thinking Outside the Diagnostic Box: Risk Factors for Cognitive–Communication Impairment
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, September 2018, Vol. 3, 51-58. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG2.51
History: Received June 13, 2018 , Revised August 9, 2018 , Accepted August 23, 2018
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, September 2018, Vol. 3, 51-58. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG2.51
History: Received June 13, 2018; Revised August 9, 2018; Accepted August 23, 2018

Purpose Diagnosing and treating individuals with cognitive–communication disorders can be challenging. It may seem easier to diagnose the disorder if it is associated with a clear event or diagnosis such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Some clinicians may even feel like they are treating the patient “unethically” if there is not a clear preexisting diagnosis or well-known explanation for the disorder. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of lesser known risks and causes of cognitive–communication impairment—to “think outside the diagnostic box.”

Conclusions Risk factors for cognitive impairment include disorders associated with cardiovascular disease: hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hyperlipidemia. Other risk factors include obesity, nutrition status, alcohol consumption, and aging. Except aging, all of the risk factors are in some way modifiable. Helping to identify individuals who are at risk for cognitive impairment is an important area of emphasis within assessment and treatment in this population because appropriate medical management and implementation may lead to decreased disease burden on cognitive and communication functions. Speech-language pathologists have a valuable role within the clinical team to identify, refer, and diagnose individuals with cognitive–communication impairment due to multiple medical conditions as well as provide behavioral interventions that contribute to the prevention and management of the cognitive and health consequences.

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