Aphasia: Symptoms, Types and Speech Therapy Treatment

When you talk to your doctor, they may tell you that aphasia is one of the possible effects when loved one’s experiences a stroke or head injury. But what is Aphasia?

We will cover the basics of the disorder and what your loved one is likely to go through when they have it. We will also talk about how treatment works, and what you can do to help them recover. Let’s get started.

What Aphasia Is

Aphasia is when a brain trauma or injury affects a person’s writing, reading and speaking skills. The left side of the brain deals with comprehension and language ability, and with sufficient damage it can affect someone’s communication skills. Despite how it looks, aphasia does not affect your loved one’s intelligence or or their brain’s normal functions.

To speak effectively your brain needs two things: speech and language. Changes in the language processing part of the brain can cause aphasia, because it removes one of those components. Without it, someone can produce sounds, but they have no idea what to say, or tend to say the wrong words or expressions.

Signs and Symptoms

People with aphasia can demonstrate some of the following speaking behaviors:

  • forming incomplete sentences
  • difficulty understanding what others are saying
  • replacing words or sounds with incorrect words or sounds.
  • writing or saying words that make no sense to the listener

Aphasia can affect both a person’s social life, as well as their career. Despite these challenges, human interactions at home and at work are still crucial for recovery, along with consistent speech therapy.

Causes of Aphasia

Strokes are the most common cause for Aphasia. About 25% to 40% of people who suffer from a stroke will develop aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association.

It is not limited to people who have had a stroke. If brain damage is sustained, it can affect a person’s language function. A possible brain tumor, traumatic brain injury, and brain infections are included.

Types of Aphasia

There are different types of Aphasia, so the way of helping your loved one may vary from others. The most common types of aphasia include:

Expressive (Broca’s) Aphasia

Also known as non-fluent aphasia, this is when a person needs a lot of effort when they speak. People with Broca’s aphasia can read and comprehend speech. It’s expressing themselves through talking that’s usually the problem. There are a number of common behaviors for Broca’s aphasia:

  • Short and clumsy utterances of typically less than 4 words
  • difficulty in using their vocabulary
  • limited but functional writing skills

Receptive (Wernicke’s) Aphasia

Reading and comprehension are more affected by Wernicke’s aphasia than speech skills. But it doesn’t mean that speech isn’t affected: they might not even notice saying weird things when they speak sometimes. There are many common symptoms:

  • less reading and writing skills
  • cannot understand the meaning of words spoken by other people
  • forming sentences that don’t hang well together

Anomic Aphasia

Anomic aphasia can make it difficult for someone to say what they mean. They can use vague expressions and thoughts in a roundabout way, even though their sentences are in good shape. Aphasia symptoms found in this type are:

  • difficulty in finding the right words when speaking and writing
  • seldom talks about something in a straight-forward manner
  • vague and roundabout sentences (also known as circumlocution)

Global Aphasia

This is often seen as severe aphasia and it means that both producing and receiving language are impaired. Depending on the severity of brain damage, cognitive and intellectual abilities are usually intact. They may have an exhibit:

  • limited recognized words
  • can’t understand spoken or written language
  • extreme difficulty in writing

It is advisable to get in touch with a speech-language pathologist who can help assess the situation. They can give more information on what needs to be done to improve their condition.

How Speech Therapy Can Help

Aphasia can be treated with speech-language therapy. While it can improve on its own, the restoration will be better and faster with hours invested in practice with a speech-language pathologist.

Speech and language abilities are the first thing that your loved one’s speech pathologist will assess. Treatments will depend on the severity and circumstances of aphasia. They often include:

  • Improving the speech and language capabilities through exercises
  • recommending the use of alternative ways of communicating (AAC)
  • Restoring natural communication with other people

Speech therapists may begin their work with the pronunciation of words. They may also teach them how to converse in a non-verbal way (gestures) than they normally would.

It is important to partner speech-language therapy with daily practice for a full recovery. Effective speech therapy and persistent practice work well together to bring the best results.

Most of the communication with your loved one will happen at home with you. Book your free consultation today and let us help you connect with them.