What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is a communication disorder resulting from the damage to the left side of the brain. It affects a person’s ability to speak, read or write. It can be mild or severe, thereby determining whether the condition will last for years or be life long. Having Aphasia causes difficulty in everyday communication, for instance, in finding words to complete sentences.
Brain injury, Alzheimers, Dementia and brain tumour are some of the causes of the disorder. However, it is most commonly caused by stroke and occurs most frequently in the elderly.
According to the National Aphasia Association, 20 to 40% of people who survive stroke get aphasia.
Signs and symptoms
People with Aphasia usually face problems with communication. They are unable to find words to explain their thoughts or for completing their sentences. Consequently, many times, they make a grammatical error, putting words in a wrong order or substituting with similar sounding words (like head for bed).
Along with the problem in speaking, they may also face a problem with comprehending the spoken language or might take extra time to understand. Additionally, they may also find it hard to follow fast speeches. Along with this, they have trouble understanding complex grammar. As a result, they lack awareness of error.
31% of people agree or give a neutral response to the statement: “If a person has difficulties with speech, they also have intellectual deficiencies.”
Also, they often face a problem with written expressions or reading comprehensions. For instance, using a single word only, spelling or writing words that do not make any sense, inability to sound out words and much more similar symptoms.
This disorder varies from mild to severe. Some common types of it include:
Also known as Broca’s Aphasia, in this condition, a person finds it difficult to express thoughts with words. So, they know exactly what to say but can’t say it. Additionally, their speech output is reduced to short utterances of less than four words.
With Expressive Aphasia, a person is able to understand speech and read well but faces difficulty in writing. It is called non-fluent because of the slow, hesitant and effortful quality of speech.
In this, a person may hear the sentences, read the text but are not able to understand the message. It is also known as Wernicke’s aphasia. They may often say words that might not make sense but that’s because they do not understand their own language.
In this, a person finds it difficult to find the right words for speaking and writing.
This one is the most severe type. People suffering from this can only produce few recognisable words and understand little or no spoken language. Additionally,
they may understand only a few words and speak only a few words at a time. They can neither read nor write.
This is a rare neurological syndrome which affects a person’s ability to talk, read, write or process what they hear in conversations over a period of time. It cannot be treated but therapy might help.
– 2,000,000 in the US are suffering from Aphasia.
– 84.5% people have never heard the term “Aphasia” and only 8.8% of people have heard of it and can recognise it as a language disorder.
– 34.7% of people are only aware of it or know about it only because they have the condition or have known someone who is suffering from it.
– More people have aphasia than other common conditions such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or muscular dystrophy.
– A research study according to National Aphasia Association demonstrates, Aphasia has greater negative impact on a person’s life than cancer or Alzheimers.