One of the most common results of brain injury to the left side of the brain is word retrieval problems most often referred to as anomia or dysnomia. The most common complaint is they know what they want to say but can’t come up with the right word.
This is often seen in people without brain damage referred to as: The tip of the tongue syndrome. Some people, unable to evoke an elusive word, substitute another word, phrase, gesture or talk around or about the specific word. There are many ways to treat this problem. One of the most effective is to teach self-cuing. Cues are simply giving someone or yourself a hint or a clue to what is missing. One type of hint is referred to as a phonemic cue. These cues use sounds to aid the person’s word retrieval. For example, when trying to recall the word scissors, you might say you are trying to think of a word that starts with Fun to talk ssssssssssss. Hearing the ‘s’ sound can sometimes trigger the person’s memory for the full word. Another strategy of phonemic cuing is using words that rhyme. For example, a person trying to recall the word sky might be successfully cued by the phrase ‘It sounds like pie’. Another form of cuing is referred to as semantic cuing. In this type of cuing, a person trying to recall the word ‘brick’ might be cued with ‘It is a type of building material’. Or a person trying to recall the word hammer might be cued by the phrase ‘It is used to pound nails’.

The Parrot Software Internet Subscription ( has several programs that use these procedures to specifically facilitate self-cuing. But with a little work and practice, you can develop your own home lessons.

Methods for improving word finding and word retrieval abilities in persons with left side brain damage Purchase a scrapbook and look for inexpensive materials that contain pictures of a variety of easily identifiable words. Inexpensive picture books or magazines are an excellent source. But, make sure the pictures are age-appropriate. Do not use pictures that are meant expressly for young child. Go through the pictures and ask the person to name them. Whenever they make an error, try to come up with one of the cues above. Try all of them until you find a cue that works. Then cut out the picture that the person could not identify and put it in the scrapbook. Below the picture write the cue that worked. If no cue worked, leave it blank. Later, you can come back to that word and try the cues again. After you have a base of pictures in your scrapbook, go through the scrapbook again, covering the cue for the word. Ask the person to provide the cue rather than the name of the picture. Remember, the goal is to teach to person to come up with cues to help them remember words. After the person recalls the cue, then ask them to say the name of the word. This activity should be repeated often to help the neural network establish itself.