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Aphasia

Definition

Aphasia is a disorder that affects the ability to communicate. People with aphasia may have difficulty with the expression and/or understanding of language, as well as reading and writing. There are 2 types of aphasia:

Causes

Aphasia is caused by an injury to parts of the brain that are involved with language. The injury may be the result of:
Stroke
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Risk Factors

Aphasia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of aphasia include:

Symptoms

Aphasia is a symptom of an underlying problem. It may include:

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If you have a brain condition, you are probably already seeing a doctor who specializes in the nervous system. This doctor will most likely be able to recognize your aphasia. Some simple tests may be done. For example, you may be asked to follow commands, answer questions, name objects, and have a conversation. You may then be referred to a speech-language pathologist who will perform additional tests to assess your speech and language skills.
Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will focus on:
Options for treating aphasia itself include:

Speech-Language Therapy

A speech-language specialist will help you:
  • Use your remaining communication abilities
  • Restore lost abilities
  • Learn to compensate for language problems
  • Learn other methods of communicating.
This therapy may take place in both individual and group settings.

Family Counseling

A speech-language therapist will help you and your family learn how to best communicate with each other.
Psychological evaluation may also be helpful.

Prevention

Since stroke is a common cause of aphasia, follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:
If you have signs of a stroke, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES

National Aphasia Association http://www.aphasia.org

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The Aphasia Institute http://www.aphasia.ca

Brain Injury Association of Alberta http://www.biaa.ca

References

Aphasia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Aphasia. Accessed May 21, 2013.

Aphasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 2, 2012. Accessed May 21, 2013.

Aphasia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/aphasia.aspx. Updated October 2008. Accessed May 21, 2013.

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