Aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often as the result of a stroke, head injury or dementia or can be a learning disability such as dysnomia, but it may also develop slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders, which also result from brain damage.
Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Many times, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when, for some reason, blood is unable to reach a part of the brain. Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients. Other causes of brain injury are severe blows to the head, brain tumors, brain infections, and other conditions of the brain.
If there is damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, person often speak in short, but meaningful phrases that are produced with great efforts.
Affected people often omit small words such as “is,” “and,” and “the.” If damage to the temporal lobe may result in a fluent aphasia, Individuals may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create new “words.”
A third type of aphasia, global aphasia, results from damage to extensive portions of the language areas of brain. Individuals with global aphasia have severe communication difficulties and may be extremely limited in their ability to speak or comprehend language.
This type of “spontaneous recovery” usually occurs following a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a kind of stroke in which the blood flow to the brain is temporarily interrupted but quickly restored.
Family members are encouraged to:
•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 way for an adult
•Minimize distractions, such as a blaring radio, when possible
•Include the person with aphasia in conversations
•Ask for and value the opinion of the person with aphasia, especially on family matters
•Encourage any type of communication, whether it is speech, gesture, pointing, or drawing
•Avoid correcting the individual’s speech
•Allow the person plenty of time to talk
•Help the person become involved outside the home
Signs and symptoms;
People with aphasia may experience any of the following behaviors due to an acquired brain injury, though some symptoms may be due to related or concomitant problems such as dysarthria or apraxia and not primarily due to aphasia.
– Inability to comprehend language
– Inability to pronounce, not due to muscle paralysis or weakness
– Inability to speak spontaneously
– Inability to form words
– Inability to name objects
– Poor enunciation
– Excessive creation and use of personal neologisms
– Inability to repeat a phrase
– Persistent repletion of phrases
– Paraphasia (substituting letters, syllables or words)
– Inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion
– Dysprosody (alterations in inflexion, stress, and rhythm
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