We all have moments when we just can’t remember the right word. Sometimes, people who struggle to speak can seem funny to us, or like they are not as intelligent. But for people who suffer from aphasia, the likely cause is an injury to the brain that has nothing to do with intelligence. And a little understanding can go a long way toward improving communication.
Aphasia is a condition that often comes on suddenly as a result of trauma to the brain. This could be the result of an accident or a stroke, most often on the left side of the brain. Other conditions including a brain tumor, dementia, or an infection can cause aphasia to appear gradually.
People with aphasia can have a variety of symptoms that fall into four basic categories:
• Anomic or amnesia aphasia – This condition causes patients to have a hard time using the correct names for things, including people, places, and events. This is the least severe form of aphasia.
• Expressive aphasia – These people have clear ideas they want to express but have a hard time finding the correct words. This condition causes difficulty communicating by speech as well as in writing.
• Receptive aphasia – These patients have difficulty understanding what words mean. They can listen to a conversation or see words in print, but the words don’t make sense.
• Global aphasia - Patients who suffer the most traumatic damage to the brain may lose all or nearly all language ability. They may be unable to speak or understand what is said to them, and may not be able to read or write. This is the most severe type of aphasia.
Guidelines for Communication
People with aphasia may feel isolated from their friends and family because of their difficulties communicating. If someone you love has aphasia, you can help him or her communicate by following these guidelines from the National Aphasia Association:
• Don’t rush – Give the patient time to speak and to find the right words.