What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a condition that decreases the ability to speak, read, write, or understand others. Aphasia can be a short-term or long-term problem.
What causes aphasia?
Aphasia usually results from brain damage. A stroke is the most common brain injury that causes aphasia. Other causes include brain diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of aphasia?
- Nonfluent aphasia: This is also called Broca aphasia. The person has trouble finding and speaking words, even for short phrases. Writing may also be affected.
- Fluent aphasia: This is also called Wernicke aphasia. The person may speak in long sentences that have no meaning. He may add useless words or even make up new words. He may have trouble understanding what others say. Reading may also be affected.
- Global aphasia: This is the most severe form of aphasia. The person may have difficulty expressing himself and understanding what other people say. Both reading and writing may be affected.
How is aphasia diagnosed?
- MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your brain. It will also take pictures of the blood vessels and structures in your head. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood. Remove all jewelry, and tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.
- PET scan: Pictures are taken of the brain so the caregiver can find damaged areas.
- Speech-language assessment: A specialist called a speech-language pathologist tests the person's ability to speak and read.
How is aphasia treated?
Some people recover without treatment. Medicines or surgery may be needed to treat the initial brain injury. These treatments may also improve aphasia. Most people with aphasia need speech-language therapy. The person may be frustrated when he tries to communicate. Speech-language therapy can teach him to speak slowly, use simple sentences, and avoid background noise.
Where can I find support and more information?
- National Aphasia Association
350 Seventh Avenue
New York , NY 10001
Phone: 1- 800 - 922-4622
Web Address: http://www.aphasia.org
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard
Rockville , MD 20850-3289
Phone: 1- 800 - 638-8255
Web Address: http://www.asha.org
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