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Aphasia – Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Aphasia is a speech disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak or talk. It can occur at any stage in life, especially, if the language part of the brain gets damaged through injury.

Aphasia has many types and its symptoms are both subtle and obvious. It can occur in children and adults but can be treated through speech therapies and medications.

Although aphasia affects a person’s ability to communicate, it does not impact intelligence. It merely impairs the brain’s capability to verbally speak or communicate through other means. It can be partially or completely impaired however, both can be treated to some extent through proper methods.

Aphasia can create problems for a person to understand complex things, use numerical quantities, do deep analysis, write, read, or express in the “right” words. This may seem like a memory loss to some patients, therefore, they tend to repeat things unknowingly.

  • Types of aphasia

Aphasia can be of various types, depending on the mildness and severity of the disorder:

Expressive aphasia: It makes it difficult for a person to communicate clearly what they are trying to say despite knowing clearly in mind what they want to say.

Receptive aphasia: It makes a person read or write partially, but they may not be able to understand the written text. The patients do not even understand their own thoughts clearly.

Anomic aphasia: This can simply be said to be “lost for words”. Anomic aphasia does not allow a person’s mind to come up with words.

Global aphasia: This is the most severe type of aphasia which comes after a stroke. This makes it completely difficult for a person to understand, know, read, or write words.

  • Causes of aphasia:

Aphasia normally has two major causes: stroke and brain injury to the parts that conduct language functions and understanding. Mostly, almost 45% of the people who survive stroke develop aphasia symptoms later in life.

However, it can also be caused due to less common diseases like epilepsy, brain tumor, brain infection, or dementia.

  • Symptoms of aphasia:

Some of the common symptoms of mild and severe aphasia include:

  • Trouble with speaking
  • Struggle to find the right words or any words at all
  • Difficulty in understanding the meaning of words, their concept, or any related imagery behind them
  • Trouble in following people’s conversations 
  • Difficulty in reading, writing, recognizing words
  • Being unable to speak in bigger or clearer sentences
  • Writing words or sentences that do not make sense

The symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the disorder.

  • Treatment of aphasia:

Treatment for aphasia can be long and time-taking, depending on the patient’s condition. Some of the major aspects to be seen for initiating treatment include:

  • Patient’s age
  • Cause and type of injury
  • Type of aphasia
  • Position and size of the brain lesion

It can also be related to some other type of disease in the brain. Let’s say a person is suffering from a brain tumor and aphasia, in such a case, surgery for a brain tumor may treat aphasia as well. 

However, speech therapies can go a long way in treating this condition. This can be done through drawing, using signs and symbols, and using other props to send the message to the other person. The patients can also be taught to speak slowly without fear or anxiety.

Aphasia can be critical for patients who suddenly acquire this disease through an external and unexpected injury like an accident, for instance. Not being able to speak, read, or write can be highly stressful in the initial stages until a person gets used to this condition. Thus, showing patience and empathy to such patients can help them regain their confidence.

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