Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Cannizzaro

Second Advisor

Dr. Marcia Bosek


TBI, traumatic brain injury, discourse, narrative discourse, conversational discourse, procedural discourse, narrative, personal narrative, fictional narrative


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a global health epidemic that has detrimental consequences for individuals who sustain the brain injury, their families, and society. As a result of TBI, many individuals experience significant cognitive-communicative impairments, including difficulties with structuring and eliciting discourse. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of these language difficulties and their possible clinical implications by comparing discourse communication samples from adults with TBI to those from adults without TBI. Audio recordings of 18 adults, consisting of narratives on different genres of discourse communication (e.g., conversational, procedural, personal narrative, and fictional narrative), were used for the purposes of this project. The discourse samples of 4 individuals with TBI were compared with the discourse samples of 14 individuals without TBI on the basis of several discourse communication measures including: (1) story length, (2) frequency of discourse errors, (3) elements, (4) story organization, (5) information content, and (6) information relevance. Overall, the differences observed between the TBI and non-TBI individuals on the discourse communication tasks reflect the typical communication impairments experienced by those living with TBI. Compared to the discourse samples of participants without TBI, the individuals with TBI produced more linguistic dysfluencies and discourse errors which indicated impairments related to pragmatic skill, information transfer and relevance, linking the events in a story, and effectively structuring discourse communication. The participants without TBI showed strengths in the quality and completeness of their spoken narratives. Ultimately, the differences observed among participants from each group provide important insight into what types of speech-language therapy might be appropriate and effective for these individuals.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.