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What’s New in Aphasia Research

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Aphasia is “an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.” (Source: The National Aphasia Association; Page Title: More Aphasia Facts; URL: http://www.aphasia.org/Aphasia%20Facts/aphasia_facts.html).

Though aphasia does not affect the intelligence of a person, it does present challenges to those who are afflicted with it, in regards to their ability to communicate with those around them. Their language processing skills--for example, the ability to read, write, listen, speak and get understood--gets adversely affected, including their ability to understand others.

A few cases of aphasia are congenital but most are acquired--caused as an after effect of stroke, brain hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, tumor in the brain, or lesions in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. As per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), it is believed that that in U.S alone, one million people, or one in every 272 persons, are affected by aphasia. (Source: CureResearch.com; Report Title: NINDS Aphasia Information Page: NINDS; URL: http://www.cureresearch.com/artic/ninds_aphasia_information_page_ninds.htm)

Research on Aphasia has made it possible for patients to lead improved lives with better control of their language and comprehension skills through a combination of linguistic and drug therapy. Let’s take a look at what is new in the field of research for the condition:

1. Speech and Language Processing in Aphasia - This research was led by Dr. Sheila Blumstein of Brown University. It studied anatomy and architecture of the part of the brain which is involved in cognitive skills and is affected by onset of aphasia. It also studied over a period of 11 years those parts of the brain which were spared in aphasic patients with a view to examine the neural systems of lexical processing. It mapped the effects of sound-to-meaning in auditory word recognition and from meaning-to-sound in spoken word production. It helped develop some breakthroughs in linguistic therapy development and delivery. (Source: U.S Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health; Page Name: Project Information; Report Title: Speech and Language Processing in Aphasia; URL: http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?icde=0&aid=7738889

2. New Aphasia Therapy Research – This is an ongoing research conducted by the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of Cambridge University, U.K. It is a comparative study aimed looking at the differences in the effects of the new dimension of aphasia treatment known as intensive language action therapy or constraint-induced aphasia therapy, when compared to conventional language and speech therapy offered to chronic aphasia patients. It also aims to establish a short-term therapy as well as identify any factors which may be predictors of successful outcomes of such a study and therapy. (Source: Aphasia Now, Article Title: New Aphasia Therapy Research (May 2011); URL: http://www.aphasianow.org/Resources/Aphasia_Research/

3. Metaphor Training Project – This project was conducted by Hiram Brownell of Boston College and Kristine Lundgren of Boston University. Its target population were those who suffered from aphasia after brain stroke or traumatic brain injury. Patients with these two causes of aphasia typically experience a specific type of range of communication impairments impacting their lives in negative ways. The study was aimed at evaluating and remediating:

a. The difficulty of generating appropriate associations to words
b. The difficulty of evaluating connotative shared meaning
c. The difficulty of selecting from among alternative interpretations

Lastly, the ground-breaking study also examined the changes of intensity and duration of training programs on gains made by patients as well as devised approaches in slowing the decline of linguistic skills. (Source: eShow2000.com; Report Title: ‘Remediation of Metaphor Comprehension Deficits: A Pilot Study’; Author(s): Kristine Lundgren, Hiram Brownell, Carol Cayer-Meade, Soma Roy; URL: http://www.eshow2000.com/asha/2006/handouts/855_1044Lundgren_Kristine_057450_111306124525.pdf)

Reviewed June 1, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India) and Mentor Your Mind (Publisher: Sterling Publishers). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

Add a Comment2 Comments

Hi Anonymous,

I am sorry to hear of your injury leading to aphasia.

I am not qualified to give medical opinion or advice. Yet from what I know there are speech and language therapy techniques available as well as techniques like transcranial stimulation.

As far as medicines are concerned your doctor will prescribe them as per your specific symptoms and medical history.

There are formulations of bromocriptine, donepezil (known to enhance cognitive skills). Experiments have been conducted with  dopaminergic, cholinergic, and stimulant drugs and some benefits have been observed . SSRI antidepressants have also proved beneficial in some cases. However, your doctor is the best bet on these since the medicines may have contraindication literature (not to be had with certain other medicines or under certain health conditions) and undesirable side-effect caveats.

I hope this helps in some way and I wish you a quick recovery.


January 16, 2012 - 9:06pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am looking for answers. I was extremely high functioning both physically and mentally, court reporter, the ability to listen, remember, retain and write simultaneously 200 plus words per minute. I was also an elite marathon runner. Was rear ended while stopped at a light. Me, a small car, him a truck going in excess of 45 miles per hour. Was diagnosed with a concussion, told would be myself in a year. eventually diagnosed with brain stem injury and aphasia, dropped toes. I do have some physical injuries, but the brain injury is of most concern. I have difficulty understanding what is being said, use captioning on TV, reading out loud, writing and even when hearing the words understanding simply the concept of what is said. In my head the knowledge is there, but cannot access the intelligence when speaking, don't know what things are called, people's names. I do have short term and some long term memory loss and fatigue. Sometimes I just hear bits of words, but it seems music my brain hears all the instruments almost separately, little noises. I am on nuvigil. Are there any new meds out there?

January 16, 2012 - 1:37pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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