Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. The main cause of aphasia is always due to injury to the brain, most commonly from a stroke. This condition is particularly common in older individuals. Brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, brain tumors, as well as infections.

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects your speech, as well as your ability to write and understand verbal and written language.

This condition arises after injury to parts of the brain that contribute to language. Areas of the brain that affect language include:

  • Frontal Lobe – Cognitive abilities
  • Temporal Lobe – Processes memories
  • Parietal Lobe – Regulates taste, touch, temperature, and movement

The most common cause of aphasia is a stroke. However, it also can come on gradually from a brain tumor or a disease that can cause progressive, permanent damage (degenerative).

Treatment

Once diagnosed, the main treatment for aphasia is speech/language therapy. A speech-language pathologist can help people with aphasia improve their ability to communicate. The need to relearn language skills and practice different ways to communicate is imperative in improving the patient’s overall quality of life.

Symptoms

A speech-language pathologist is able to diagnose the specific type of aphasia based on which area of the brain is affected. Common aphasia symptoms include:

  • Trouble speaking clearly
  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Issues writing clearly
  • Problems understanding written words
  • Trouble remembering words
  • Difficulty remembering object names

There are multiple well-known aphasia syndromes that have specific patterns of language as well as speech. These patterns go hand in hand with the areas of the brain that a stroke damages.

Types of Aphasia

  • Broca’s
  • Wernicke’s
  • Global

Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s Aphasia (motor aphasia) is when people find it difficult to find and say the right words, but other language abilities for the most part stay the same. When a stroke interrupts blood flow to the dominant frontal lobe of the brain, damage can occur to the Broca’s area of the brain.

When Broca’s aphasia affects an individual, it is common for frustration to arise due to the inability to turn thoughts into words. This can make it difficult for a person to express themselves even though they usually are able to understand language.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia affects areas of the brain that are responsible for our ability to understand language. Located in the temporal lobe, these areas of the brain can affect the ability to understand others. In fact, it can even affect their ability to understand themselves when speaking.

Those affected with Wernicke’s aphasia create sentences with words arranged in what sounds like a random fashion. This can be referred to as logorrhea. Frustration can be felt by the individual that feels as if others should understand them. They are unable to grasp the fact that their language is impaired.

Global Aphasia

Global aphasia occurs when damage to both Broca’s & Wernicke’s language areas of the brain is widespread. As a result, individuals with Global aphasia are unable to understand language or speak. However, in some cases, people with Global aphasias can still communicate by using the written language.

Helpful Resource: Communication Tips (National Aphasia Association)

 

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