Aphasia is a language disorder that has a whole month dedicated to it in June, but how many people actually know the intricacies of this complex disorder?
When parts of the brain that are in control of language and communication are injured, the condition aphasia can be a result of the damage, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.
Aphasia is characterized by having a hard time communicating what you’re saying, having difficulties comprehending speech, and having reading and writing issues. Aphasia is an acquired condition, since it’s caused by brain damage.
The National Aphasia Association defines aphasia as “an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence.” Aphasia is most commonly caused by having a stroke, but other causes include head injuries, brain tumors and other neurological issues, according to the website.
Compared to other health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, aphasia is more common since about 1 in 250 Americans have it.
The prognosis depends on what the cause of aphasia is, other factors like symptoms and location, and depends on the individual. Some people can recover from aphasia with help.
The four main types of aphasia are expressive, receptive, anomic and global, according to a National Institutes of Health website. Expressive aphasia is also known as Broca’s aphasia, and receptive aphasia is also known as Wernicke’s aphasia.
Broca’s aphasia, which is considered a non-fluent aphasia, is characterized by speaking issues, according to the National Health Service website. People who have Broca’s aphasia can generally only speak with a minimal amount of words in cut-ff sentences, but they are still able to get the general idea across of what they want to say.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website states that expressive aphasia is also characterized by issues with writing, and that a person with this type of aphasia “knows what he wants to say, but cannot find the words he needs.”
Wernicke’s aphasia, which is considered a fluent aphasia, is characterized by speaking issues regarding content of speech, according to the NHS website. People with Wernicke’s aphasia can talk in flowing sentences and have normal speech, but the content of the sentences isn’t understandable due to using non-words or using words in the wrong order.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website states that receptive aphasia is also characterized by issues understanding writing and speech.
People with anomic aphasia, also known as amnesia aphasia, have issues using accurate names for certain events, places, objects and people, according to the National Health Service website. Anomic aphasia is considered the least burdensome of the different types.
Global aphasia is the most troublesome type of aphasia to have, since all forms of communication are affected, according to the National Health Service website. People with global aphasia have issues writing, reading, speaking and accurately naming people and objects, as well as comprehending the speech of others.
Language expression and understanding are almost completely impaired due to severe brain damage, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Aphasia Information Page. Aphasia Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Web. September 28, 2011. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/aphasia/aphasia.htm
National Aphasia Association. Aphasia Frequently Asked Questions. Welcome to the National Aphasia Association. Web. September 28, 2011. http://www.aphasia.org/Aphasia%20Facts/aphasia_faq.html
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Aphasia. Aphasia: MedlinePlus. Web. September 28, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/aphasia.html
NHS choices. Aphasia. Aphasia – NHS Choices. Web. September 28. 2011. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Aphasia/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Reviewed September 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith