What is aphasia?
Aphasia (ah-FA-ze-ah) is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. It’s most often caused by a stroke that affects the left part of the brain, which controls language.
Aphasia does not affect intelligence.
Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or impossible to understand. Some survivors continue to have:
- Trouble speaking.
- Trouble finding words.
- Problems understanding what others say.
- Problems with reading, writing or math.
- Inability to process long words and infrequently used words.
How does it feel to have aphasia?
People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can’t speak or understand things the way they did before their stroke. They may act differently because of changes in their brain.
Imagine looking at the headlines of the morning newspaper and not being able to recognize the words; or trying to say “put the car in the garage” and it comes out “put the train in the house” or “widdle tee car ung sender plissen.” Thousands of alert, intelligent men and women find themselves suddenly plunged into a world of jumbled communication because of aphasia.
Are there different types of aphasia?
Yes, there are several forms of aphasia. They include:
- Global aphasia — Someone with this type of aphasia may be completely unable to speak, name objects, repeat phrases or follow commands.
- Broca’s aphasia — The person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the right words.
- Wernicke’s aphasia — A person with this aphasia can seldom comprehend what is being said or control what they’re saying.
How can family and friends help?
The stroke survivor with aphasia and family members will need the help and support of a doctor, counselor and speech pathologist. It’s a good idea for family and friends to:
- Always assume that the stroke survivor can hear. Check understanding with yes/no questions.
- Set up a daily routine for the person with aphasia that includes rest and time to practice skills.
- Use sentences that are short and to the point.
- Keep the noise level down and stand where the survivor can see you.
- Remember to treat the stroke survivor as an adult and let him or her share in decision-making. No one likes to be ignored. Include the survivor in your conversation.
- Help the stroke survivor cope with feelings of frustration and depression.
What are the warning signs of stroke?
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headaches with no known cause
Learn to recognize a stroke, because time lost is brain lost.
Today there are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from the most common type of stroke, but only if you get help quickly - within 3 hours of your first symptoms.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience these warning signs!
Content courtesy of: American Heart Association