Many patients who come to a rehabilitation facility and are referred to speech-language pathologists have this catch-all diagnosis on their H&P. A diagnosis of encephalopathy is usually a starting point- it's acknowledging that something has changed, but maybe we're not totally sure why or how yet. It's a red flag and allows us as SLPs to use our unique position within a structured therapeutic environment to monitor for more long-term changes in cognition and refer to neurologists, neuro-psychologists, and other specialists as appropriate to further investigate the root cause. This handout describes some of the more common types of encephalopathy and can be a good place to start the discussion and referral process.
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