Slurred and Garbled speech

by DeeDee
(Oklahoma City)

My sister in law is having slurred and garbled speech, and this last episode she didn't know her own last name, or her son's name. She recognized me but couldn't come up with my name. She is off balance when she walks, sometimes walking into doorways or the couch.

We have thought in the past that she was taking too much much pain medicine and muscle relaxers. (she was in a horrible accident a couple of years ago and broke her back in 2 places, ribs and her hip, she now has rods in her back and hip.)

Well today was the worst day she has ever had and was taken to the ER for a drug screen and it came back clean. So now we are all really confused because this whole time we have been trying to get her to go to rehab and get help and we find out that's not what is going on.

Can you tell me what might be happening? She said a while back that one of her old doctors said that she had lupus but she has never been treated for it so we didn't know if that was true either.

Thank you very much,

Comments for Slurred and Garbled speech

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Answer for Dee Dee, re Slurred and Garbled Speech
by: Elle Bieling, RN, BSN, HHP

Hi Dee Dee,

Thank-you for your question and thank-you for trusting my opinion.

As you know, I am not a doctor, so it would be wrong of me to give you an opinion on what is wrong with your sister-in-law. However, her problem seems like a very serious problem to me.

Her family did the right thing by taking her to the Emergency Room. You may not know this information, but based on her symptoms, I would hope the ER doctor did a full neurological work-up as well as the drug screen. A good emergency room would have done that. However, emergency rooms are there to take care of any immediate and life threatening situations and not to diagnose an on-going, more subtle problem. Since she was physically stable, they sent her home.

My advice to you, if you have any influence in your brother's family, is to encourage them to take her to her primary physician and let him/her know what happened. Then the physician can access any tests that were done in the ER. Her physician can confer and decide where to go next. Her primary physician, who knows her best can order more tests or refer her to a specialist.

The symptoms you describe are neurological in nature (or showing signs of nervous system problems) and need to be followed-up. If the symptoms are emotional in nature, then her doctor can order psychiatric treatment as well. I do not know her history and what she had evaluated in the past.

With her history of a very frightening car accident and her significant injuries, most likely her problems are a combination of physical and emotional, so it is important that you find a specialist in trauma-related treatments.

There are pain clinics that maybe can help. Ask her primary doctor for a referral to one if she has ongoing problems with pain. Pain that is not managed well can do horrible things to a person.

Best of luck to you and your family and I hope that your sister-in-law can find healing for her life!


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