Aphasia is a communication disability which occurs when the communication centres of the brain are damaged. It is usually caused by stroke, but can also be caused by brain haemorrhage, head injury or tumours. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Each person with aphasia experiences it differently. Some people cannot speak at all; some people have just a few words. Others can no longer read, write or use numbers.
Symptoms Of Aphasia
Some people with aphasia have trouble using words and sentences (expressive aphasia). Some have problems understanding others (receptive aphasia). Others with aphasia struggle with both using words and understanding (global aphasia).
Aphasia can cause problems with spoken language (talking and understanding) and written language (reading and writing). Typically, reading and writing are more impaired than talking or understanding.
Aphasia may be mild or severe. The severity of communication difficulties depends on the amount and location of the damage to the brain.
There are many types of treatment available for individuals with aphasia. The type of treatment depends on the needs and goals of the person with aphasia. The speech and language therapist will adopt a holistic client-centred approach for management. The speech and language therapist may work on drills and exercises to improve specific language skills affected by damage to the brain. For example, the person may practice naming objects, following directions, or answering questions about stories. These exercises vary depending on individual needs. The speech and language therapist also teaches the person ways to make use of stronger language skills or other modes of communication. For example, some people may find it easier to express their ideas through gestures and writing than with speaking. This is called total communication. The speech and language therapist may teach the person to use both writing and gestures to help remember words for conversation.
The treatment programme will be individually tailored to each person depending on their presentation, diagnosis and severity of the condition. Your speech and language therapist will go through the treatment programme with you to meet your own goals.
Aphasia can be severe or mild and may affect only one form of communication or several such as comprehension, expression, reading, writing, spelling and visual recognition of objects. Aphasia is a common disorder that arises after a Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury and different types of Aphasia can arise depending on the area of the brain that was affected.
As Aphasia can interfere with so many forms of communication and skills it can make everyday activities like giving your signature or reading a menu seem like an impossible task. This is a huge source of frustration for the individual and without treatment can be quite detrimental to confidence and self-esteem levels. Therefore early intervention in the form of speech and language therapy is recommended.
All of Spectrum Health’s Adult Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with adults who have aphasia, stroke, traumatic brain injury and other neurological conditions.