Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Aphasia is a language disorder caused by stroke or trauma to the left-hemisphere of the brain. Individuals with aphasia can have difficulties with:
Understanding spoken language.
There are several types of aphasia based on the location of the stroke, the type of language impairments, and severity of the impairment. They are:
Broca’s Aphasia - A person with Broca’s aphasia may only be able to say three or four words at a time. It may take a lot of effort to say words or string together sentences. People with this kind of aphasia have limited vocabulary and trouble finding the words they want to use. At the same time, people with Broca’s aphasia tend to understand speech well. Broca’s aphasia is sometimes called “non-fluent aphasia”.
Wernicke’s Aphasia- For a person with Wernicke's Aphasia,speaking isn’t difficult; in fact, the words pour out of the mouth with ease. The problem is that the words are not coherent and/or those words aren't coming together to form coherent sentences. Wernicke’s aphasia also affects reading and writing. Wernicke’s aphasia is sometimes called “fluent aphasia.”
Anomic Aphasia-People with anomic aphasia can’t find the words they want to use, and this is particularly true when trying to come up with the correct noun or verb. They get around the missing words by using many other similar words or filling in the blank spaces with vague fillers like “stuff” or “thing.” People with anomic aphasia understand speech and they can usually read, but they sometimes have the same difficulties relative to word finding in their writing.
Global Aphasia-This is the most severe form of aphasia. People with global aphasia cannot speak many words and sometimes don’t understand speech. They typically cannot read or write. People may have global aphasia for a short period of time following a brain injury or stroke, and then move into a different type of aphasia as their brain health begins to improve.
Primary Progressive Aphasia-Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a form of dementia where people lose the ability to read, write, speak and understand language over time. It’s a gradual loss of language over time, moving from subtle to severe when in advance stages.There are three types of PPA – Semantic, Logopenic and Non-Fluent -agrammatic.
Following a stroke, changes may occur in the brain which help it to recover. As a result, people with aphasia often see dramatic improvements in their language and communication abilities within the first few months with treatment. But in many cases, some aphasia remains following this initial recovery period. In these instances, speech-language therapy is used to help patients regain their ability to communicate.
Research has shown that language and communication abilities can continue to improve for many years and are sometimes accompanied by new activity in brain tissue near the damaged area. Some of the factors that may influence the amount of improvement include the cause of the brain injury, the area of the brain that was damaged and its extent, and the age and health of the individual.
Aphasia therapy aims to improve a person's ability to communicate by helping him or her to:
Use remaining language abilities
Restore language abilities as much as possible
Learn other ways of communicating, such as using gestures, pictures, and/or use of electronic devices.
Individual therapy focuses on the specific needs of the person, while group therapy offers the opportunity to use new communication skills in a small-group setting.
Family/caregiver involvement is also often a crucial component of aphasia treatment because it enables family members/caregivers to learn the best way to communicate with their loved one.
Family members are encouraged to:
Participate in therapy sessions, if possible.
Simplify language by using short, uncomplicated sentences.
Repeat the content words or write down key words to clarify meaning as needed.
Maintain a natural conversational manner appropriate for an adult.
Minimize distractions, such as a loud radio or TV, whenever possible.
Include the person with aphasia in conversations.
Ask for and value the opinion of the person with aphasia, especially regarding family matters.
Encourage any type of communication, whether it is speech, gesture, pointing, or drawing.
Avoid correcting the person's speech.
Allow the person plenty of time to talk.
Help the person become involved outside the home. Seek out support groups, such as organizations and clubs related to stroke.
Aside from therapy, patients with aphasia are encouraged to participate in activities, such as:
Creative Writing groups
Media club (discusses TV and Movies)
Art and Drama clubs
Such experiences help patients regain their confidence and social self-esteem, in addition to improving their communication skills. Adult day care centers, social media groups such as Facebook, and regional aphasia support groups formed by people who have had a stroke. can help a person and his or her family adjust to the life changes that accompany stroke and aphasia.