Aphasia is a condition where you become unable to use or understand language.
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a language disorder where you have problems with speaking or understanding words.
It can affect people of all age groups but is most common in older people. People who have had a stroke may develop from aphasia.
Here at The London Clinic, our experienced team of consultants and speech therapists can help you find the right words.
Each case of aphasia is different, so treatment is tailored to you and taken at your pace. Several treatments over a short time tend to be more effective - little and often.
A combination of techniques are recommended which often include:
- Multisensory teaching that uses pictures, sounds, music and textures
- Structured teaching starts gradually, and it may become more patient-led over time as your confidence increases
We encourage everyone who has had a stroke to use their language skills. We find that it can be really helpful for families to get involved with the therapy programme.
What causes aphasia?
Aphasia is caused by brain damage in most cases.
This may include the following:
- Physical injury to the brain
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain tumours
Damage to the brain is most likely to cause aphasia if it affects the language hemisphere. People who lose movement on their right side after a stroke often experience loss of speech.
What are the symptoms of aphasia?
Aphasia results from damage to certain areas of the brain. These are mainly located in the ‘language hemisphere.’ In about 90% of people, this is the left half of the brain (left cerebral hemisphere).
The main symptoms of aphasia include:
- Not being able to construct meaningful sentences
- Finding it difficult to understand simple instructions
- Struggling to find the ‘right’ word
- Being unable to repeat phrases back
- Forgetting how to use grammar
- Trouble with reading or writing
How is aphasia diagnosed?
Aphasia has several recognised categories:
Someone who has good use of grammar, but the words they say are difficult to understand. It’s often peppered with totally original words.
This happens due to difficulty in forming sentences and word-finding. Questions can be reduced to the bare minimum with only a couple of words.
Completely unable to understand or use spoken language.
A formal diagnosis of aphasia involves taking a standardised test. An example of this is the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination. This may be followed up by an MRI scan of the brain.
An MRI scan is a non-invasive technique that can visualise the body’s soft tissues and is routine in people who have had a stroke.
Aphasia or dysphasia after a stroke
A stroke is caused by the interruption of blood supply to an area of the brain. An ischaemic stroke decreases the blood supply to an area of the brain, often because of a blood clot.
Haemorrhagic stroke is due to bleeding within the brain as a result of a burst blood vessel. Any stroke that affects the language hemisphere in the brain can cause aphasia.
We encourage early treatment with one of our dedicated speech therapists for the best possible outcomes. Many of our patients see great improvements in their command and understanding of language.
Recovering from aphasia
How well you recover depends on what caused the aphasia in the first place. It is important to remember that no matter how challenging the aphasia might seem at first, it is likely to improve over time.
Each journey is different and requires patience, and we will be there every step of the way.