Aphasia is a little-known condition affecting a surprisingly large number of people. It is the impaired ability to speak and understand language, to read and to write. Aphasia is caused by damage to parts of the brain that control language. It often results suddenly from stroke or head injuries. It may also develop more slowly due to dementia, infection, or brain tumor.
There are four types of aphasia.
In expressive aphasia, the sufferer has trouble saying, or writing, what they want to say.
In receptive aphasia, the person can hear the words spoken by others, or read the words before them but can't understand them.
In anomic aphasia, the person uses the wrong words when they speak.
In global aphasia, the person cannot speak, understand what is said, and cannot read or write.
Some people recover without treatment, sometimes within days or even hours. This is generally when aphasia was caused by a stroke that was quickly and successfully treated.
But this is not usually how it goes. Then, speech and language therapy is advisable. Recovery can take about two years. The earlier treatment begins, the better the chance it will succeed. All of this is affected by variables such as the area of the brain damage, how it came about, and the seriousness of the damage. Other factors are the person's age and their state of health.
Family members can play a vital role in recovery. They can be of great help by keeping a few things in mind. Speaking in short, simple sentences makes it easier for their loved one to understand them. Keeping noise and distractions to a minimum makes it easier for the affected person to comprehend what is said, and express themselves.
They can boost the morale of the person struggling with aphasia. They can include the person in conversations, being patient and giving ample time for response. They should be encouraging, making room for any type of expression on the part of the sufferer, as they try to speak, or write, or make gestures to get their meaning across. It's best if they don't correct the sufferer's speech, or finish the person's sentences.
When the time is right, family members can encourage the sufferer to become involved with the outside world again. Stroke clubs, support groups which can help in adjusting to the changes brought about by aphasia, are an excellent place to start.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Aphasia Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Resources for Aphasics. Aphasia Treatment Advice, Aphasia Therapy and Aphasia Software
National Aphasia Association
What is Aphasia- Common Aphasias