Aphasia Causes Types and Treatment

Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written.

Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of the aphasia depends on a number of conditions, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. 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 or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.

What are the types of Aphasia?

Fluent aphasia.

Fluent aphasia is also called Wernicke’s aphasia. It typically involves damage to the middle left side of your brain. If you have this type of aphasia, you can speak but you have trouble understanding when others speak. If you have fluent aphasia, it’s likely you’ll:

be unable to understand and use language correctly

tend to speak in long, complex sentences that are meaningless and include incorrect or nonsense words

not realize that others can’t understand you

Nonfluent aphasia.

Nonfluent aphasia is also called Broca’s aphasia. It typically involves damage to the left frontal area of your brain. If you have nonfluent aphasia, you’ll likely:

speak in short, incomplete sentences

be able to convey basic messages, but you may be missing some words

have a limited ability to understand what others say

experience frustration because you realize that others can’t understand you

have weakness or paralysis on the right side of your body.

Conduction aphasia.

Conduction aphasia typically involves trouble repeating certain words or phrases. If you have this type of aphasia, you’ll likely understand when others are talking. It’s also likely that others will understand your speech but you may have trouble repeating words and make some mistakes when speaking.

Global aphasia.

Global aphasia typically involves major damage to the front and back of the left side of your brain. If you have this type of aphasia, you’ll likely:

have severe problems using words

have severe problems understanding word.

have limited ability to use a few words together.

What are the Symptoms of Aphasia?

    Signs and symptoms of aphasia vary depending on the portion of the brain affected, the extent of the area affected, and the type of aphasia. Possible symptoms include:

  • Trouble naming objects, places, events, or people even though they are known to the person (“tip of the tongue” phenomenon).
  • Trouble expressing oneself (finding the right words) when speaking or writing
  • Trouble understanding conversation.
  • Trouble reading.
  • Trouble spelling.
  • Leaving out small words like “the,” “of” and “was” from speech.
  • Putting words in the wrong order.
  • Being unaware of mistakes in one’s spoken language.
  • Speaking only in short phrases, which are produced with great effort.
  • Speaking in single words.
  • Making up words.
  • Mixing up sounds in words (saying “wog darker” for “dog walker”).
  • Saying the wrong word (saying “bird” instead of “dog”) or substituting a word that doesn’t make sense (saying “ball” for “phone”).
  • Speech is limited to only a few words or repeating the same words or phrases over and over.
  • Trouble putting words together to write sentences.
  • Trouble using numbers or doing math.

What are the causes of Aphasia?

    Aphasia is usually caused by a stroke or brain injury with damage to one or more parts of the brain that deal with language. According to the National Aphasia Association, about 25% to 40% of people who survive a stroke get aphasia.

Aphasia may also be caused by a brain tumor, brain infection, or dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, aphasia is a symptom of epilepsy or another neurological disorder.

What is the diagnosis of Aphasia?

Usually, a doctor first diagnoses aphasia when treating a patient for a stroke, brain injury, or tumor. Using a series of neurological tests, the doctor may ask the person questions. The doctor may also issue specific commands and ask the person to name different items or objects. The results of these tests help the doctor determine if the person has aphasia. They also help find out how severe the aphasia is.

What is the treatment for Aphasia?

    Treatment is aimed at improving language and communication abilities and developing other communication methods as needed. Rehabilitation, with a speech-language pathologist, includes reading and writing exercises, listening and repeating wording exercises, learning expressive language skills such as using facial expressions and gestures to communicate, following direction exercises, and many more exercises. If traditional ways of learning to communicate are not successful, patients are also taught other ways to communicate, such as pointing to cards with words, pictures, or drawings. Handheld computers, tablet devices, and smartphones with accompanying “apps” can help people with aphasia communicate. There are also devices or apps that can help create sentences or generate speech. Ask your speech-language pathologist for recommendations about aphasia assistive technologies that may be best for you.

Leave a Comment