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Aphasia Symptoms Causes and Treatment

Updated on April 1, 2014

What is Aphasia

Aphasia can be considered both a learning disability and a communicative disorder that can affect verbal and written language. Aphasia does not affect the intelligence of an individual, depending on the type of aphasia, it can be considered to be a learning disability. A person with a learning disability has average or above average intelligence but lacks the ability to process and or learn certain types of information in a typical way. A communicative disorder is a disorder that affects a person's language, and ability to understand and communicate. A communicative disorder can be caused for a physical disability also.

Aphasia can occur concurrently, or as a result of, other brain diseases and disorders. Aphasia can occur suddenly after a serious trauma to the head, or after a stroke. It can also occur when there is an infection in the part of the brain that processes language. Two of the main communication areas that process language are, the Broca area, located near the front portion of the brain and the Wernicke area, which is located in the back side of the brain. There are different stages and levels of aphasia that range from mild to severe. Mild aphasia may be treated quickly and easily. Within a few months it can disappear. Severe aphasia may require years of ongoing treatment and can have varied success depending on the severity and type.

Types of Aphasia

Some types of aphasia

  • Developmental aphasia - begins during childhood, severity can fluctuate over time from improvement to increase in severity
  • Acquired aphasia - from brain trauma, brain infections, stroke, usually sudden
  • Progressive aphasia -degenerative frontal lobe disorder, can be aggressive
  • Broca's aphasia - Inability speak resulting from an injury to the brain in the Broca area
  • Wernicke aphasia - deficit in the ability to comprehend language and in producing meaningful speech, caused by damage to the Wernicke's area of the brain

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Aphasia Symptoms

Some of the characteristics of aphasia

  • Severely limited speech ability to loss of ability to speak
  • Difficulty in communicating their thoughts, expressing themselves, having a feeling of something on the tip of their tongue
  • Uses one word statements, for example yes, no, me, I, ok in responses
  • Use the wrong word for an object
  • Often forgets the names of things
  • Difficulty understanding others speech, hard or impossible to define difference between figurative or literal speech
  • Can be more pronounced over time

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Causes of Aphasia

Related diseases/disorders/injuries of aphasia

  • Brain tumors malignant or non malignant
  • Stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Dementia and related illnesses
  • Brain infections

Treatments For Aphasia

Treatments for aphasia

  • Speech Therapy
  • PACE (Promoting Aphasics Communication Effectiveness) most common, visual stimuli
  • Family Therapy for physical disability
  • Group communication therapy
  • Computer assisted therapy

It is best to treat the symptoms of aphasia as soon as possible after the onset. Childhood aphasia treatment is more successful when caught, and treated early. Speech pathologist will sometimes treat the individual by drawing pictures and having the affected person name the objects, or the pathologist will name the objects for them. They will take the patient on day trips and discuss what they see. Group therapy is often conducted, the focus of the group is daily conversations. The patients are encouraged to converse about anything they wish, but in a conversational setting, where they speak and respond in the group.

The therapy can last for months or years depending on the severity and diagnosis. It is important for the patient to re-learn language and sounds. The success of treatment will depend on each individual and the severity of the trauma or illness resulting in the aphasia.

The article is not intended to be taken as medical advice. This is an overview of aphasia symptoms, causes, and treatments. I have supplied links for further information on aphasia. This article does not replace or act as professional medical advice.

Sarah Scott teenage stroke-Broca's aphasia

Sarah Scott 16 months later


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    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Very educational and interesting hub. Like billybuc, I knew nothing about aphasia, although I think I heard the word before. I think it may also be a symptom of schizophrenia, but I'm not sure on that. Anyway, I found it interesting to read.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 5 years ago from California

      Yes, as I understand it there are different 'levels' of Aphasia, what I am referring to is the level of ability to speak, and communicate clearly. Thank you for your comment and interest, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

    • ramerican profile image

      ramerican 5 years ago

      Very cool. I'm curious if other people have 'much lesser forms' of this, like people meeting 3 out of 5 DSM IV categories on a personality disorder.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 5 years ago from California

      @SymphUK Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I am pleased that you thought it was good! I am happy to hear about Sarah s progress. I wish I had seen your appearance. Again, thank you for your input, I will try to look up your appearance on UK Breakfast, it is interesting and great to know that she is benefiting from the treatment she is receiving. Keep in touch :) and give her my regards.

    • profile image

      SymphUK 5 years ago

      I am Sarah's mother and happened to see your article - very good! I strongly disagree with Anne/Awordlover's comments. Sarah prefers not to use ramps such as pen and paper now and her speech has improved further since these videos. We appeared on UK Breakfast TV last week and Sarah was conversing independently. She has been receiving Trans Cranial Magnetic Therapy and we feel that this has benefitted her greatly.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 5 years ago from California

      @Anne Thank you for sharing your story. It shows that determination is a powerful tool. I appreciate that you took the time to read and comment on this article. I am sure your story will help someone who may be going through what you have. I agree that doctors can isolate the patient at times. It is good to hear that you practiced as an out of the box doctor. I am sure you helped many people along the way. Again, thank you for your comment, I am glad you found this article interesting. :)

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 5 years ago from California

      @billybuc Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad you found my article interesting. I hope it is a help to others. Take care

    • awordlover profile image

      awordlover 5 years ago

      A good hub delineating the differences between types of aphasia. The videos were profound examples showing aphasia slightly after initial stroke and 16 months after stroke. In my professional opinion, her aphasia had not progressed to the next step up of recovery because I think in her 'before' video she had better control over her vocals (and grasping paper and pen), whereas 'after' video she was still word fishing (and not using paper and pen as much) and she needed as much prompting as 'before' video.

      At the height of my medical career, I had a right brain stroke in 1983 - so I identify with the 'before' video. For 2 years after, I had speech therapy and it wasn't until I stopped the 3x a week sessions and just went about normal every day life and situations that my speech became better. I still kept a pad and pen with me at all times because my mind was quicker than language and I could write what I wanted to say faster than word fishing to get it out. Many times, 'in the nick of time' words for situations where one would call/yell out to alert someone, my writing had to do that for me. I returned to work less than 3 months after I stopped speech therapy sessions and that made all the difference in recovery. I think too many times, we try to isolate the patient until we can return a 'well' person to society when in fact, society is what will help make the person 'well'.

      It is now almost 30 years since stroke (12/25/1983), and I am able to speak complete lonnnnnnng sentences, walk talk and chew gum at the same time ::smile:: and all the normal activities that one would enjoy. I am retired after 38 years as a physician and I was known for thinking and treating patients outside of the box. You do what you've got to do with whatever seems to be working at that point in time...and that's the way I practiced medicine as well. I firmly believe therapies have their place in treatment plans; I just don't believe they should be the 'only' treatment plan.

      However, I still have those days of word fishing that many tell me comes with age or menopause - depending on who you listen to. ::smile::

      Thank you for a great hub. Voted up and interesting.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting Kim and I knew nothing about this. I, of course, have heard of it but that was the extent of my knowledge. Thank you for clearly stating and educating me.