Aphasia

  • Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain which are responsible for language. For most people, these are areas on the left side (hemisphere) of the brain and usually occur suddenly.
  • The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing.
  • Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders such as dysarthria (muscle weakness) or apraxia of speech (inability of brain to coordinate speech), which also result from brain damage.
  • Aphasia ranges from mild to severe.
  • Severity depends on amount and location of damage to the brain.
  • Intellectual and mental functioning are not normally impaired.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Trouble using words and sentences – expressive aphasia
  • Problems understanding others – receptive aphasia
  • Severe impairments in both expressive & receptive areas – global aphasia
  • Difficulty with spoken language – talking and understanding
  • Trouble with written language – reading and writing

Causes:

  • Result of a stroke or head injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Infection
  • Dementia

Types of Aphasia:

Fluent aphasia (a.k.a., receptive aphasia, Wernicke's aphasia): People with fluent aphasia may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create made-up words.

  • Example: “You know that smoodle pinkered and that I want to get him round and take care of him like you want before.”

Non-fluent aphasia (a.k.a., expressive aphasia, Broca's aphasia): People with non-fluent aphasia frequently speak in short phrases that make sense but are produced with great effort. They often omit small words such as “is,” ”and,” and “the.”

  • Example: “Book book two table,” meaning, “There are two books on the table.”

Tips for Better Communication:

  • Be a patient listener- it will take a person with aphasia extra time communicate
  • Do not rush or talk for them
  • Speak a little slower and allow enough time for the person with aphasia to process what is being said
  • Communicate one idea at a time, but remember to keep content at an adult level
  • It is okay to say, “I don’t understand”
  • Do not pretend to understand what was said
  • When seeking clarification, ask short questions that can be answered with "yes," "no," or a few words