What is Cognitive - Communication Disorder

Cognitive-Communication Disorder is dysfunction in one or more of the areas of cognition or the process of thought. It can occur in people who have suffered a stroke, especially if the right hemisphere of the brain has been affected. No two people with cognitive-communication disorder have the same degree of impairment or have impairments in the same areas of cognition. 


There are several things that can be done to improve the functioning of the person with cognitive deficits and decrease the frustration for the individual and his or her family. First, the individual should never be treated like a child or "babied." Consistency and repetition are the basic rules to follow.

The following is a list of general recommendations:

  • Use a calendar to help keep the person oriented to the date, remind them of appointments and important dates
  • Use a clock or watch to orient them to the time of day and their daily schedule
  • Review other personal information such as their name, address, family members'/friends' names, their location, telephone numbers and information about their situation
  • Limit distractions while talking. Keep noise to a minimum
  • Keep instructions basic and to the point
  • Write things down to help with memory and understanding. Keep a journal of things that are happening (visitors, accomplishments in therapy)
  • Do not change the topic of conversation quickly or often
  • Always explain things carefully with less complex language to decrease the potential for misunderstandings
  • Supervise situations that may be unsafe, specifically those recommended by the therapy team
  • Practice using the call light when assistance is needed
  • Reinforce safety precautions to reduce the chance of fall or other injury
  • Try to avoid emotionally stressful discussions
  • Be patient - provide encouragement




Difficulties that may occur can include problems with:

  • Paying attention
  • Remembering names, appointments or daily events
  • Understanding and processing things that are told to them
  • Performing daily tasks in an organized manner
  • Reasoning or logical thinking skills
  • Poor judgment and safety awareness
  • Recognizing familiar people
  • Inappropriate behavior or personality changes
  • Staying on a specific topic during conversation
  • Seeing things in their left visual field (objects, words, pictures, the food on their plate)
  • Making eye contact while talking
  • Understanding humor or sarcasm (may be very literal in their thinking)
  • May be unaware that they are experiencing any problems