by Kimberly Allen, RN
Aphasia is a condition that affects a persons ability to communicate. Aphasia can affect anyone at anytime, even children. However, the majority of people are diagnosed with aphasia are over 40 years of age. Experts estimate that over one million Americans are currently suffering with aphasia.
There are several things that can cause aphasia, but the most common causes are stroke and traumatic brain injury. The National Aphasia Association estimates that around 80,000 people develop aphasia from strokes every year. Aphasia can also caused by tumors and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s even infections. There have been incidents of temporary aphasia resulting from seizures and migraines as well as TIA’s.
There are several types of aphasia. The type of aphasia as well as the area of communication that is affected depends on what language area in the brain is damaged. Most cases of aphasia fall into tree main types, Broca’s aphasia, Wernickes aphasia and global aphasia.
Broca’s aphasia is also called non-fluent aphasia. In this type of aphasia you have a severe problem with speech. When speaking you are only able to put a few words together speaking in short phrases. Most people with this type of aphasia forget the connector words like “is”, “it”, “and”, as well as “the”. So if you had Broca’s aphasia you might say “walk dog” when what you wanted to say was “I’m taking the dogs for a walk”. This type of aphasia results from damage to the frontal lobe which also plays a significant role in motor movements so frequently people with this type of aphasia will also have right sided weakness.
Wernickes aphasia is also known as fluent aphasia. In this type of aphasia the damage is to the temporal lobe of the brain. The left temporal lobe is affected more frequently than the right temporal lobe. If you have this type of aphasia you would speak in long rambling sentences that make no sense. There are extra words and even words you created making it nearly impossible to understand what you are trying to say. For example you might say something like “you know that snoodle pinkered and that I went to get him over and take care of him like you did after”. Unfortunately people with Wernickes do not realize their speech is incorrect and don’t understand why they’re being understood. This causes them to become frustrated. People with this type do not demonstrate body weakness as the area of the brain affected doesn’t control body movements.
Global aphasia is a type of non-fluent aphasia, it is also the most severe type of aphasia. This type of aphasia develops as a result of damage to large sections of the language areas in the brain. People with this type have extreme difficulty communicating with severely limited ability to not only speak but understand language. If you have this type of aphasia you would have trouble in all areas of communication including speaking as well as reading and writing.
Speech language therapy is the hallmark treatment for all types of aphasia. It is usually a slow process, however is more effective the sooner it gets started. Speech therapists use a variety of techniques to help you retrain the areas of your brain affected. Treatment depends on the area of the brain affected. Your therapist will create a plan that meets that improve the blood flow to the brain increasing it’s ability to recover as well as help replace the diminished chemicals in the brain ongoing.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.