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Aphasia: A Communication Disorder 

    June is Aphasia Awareness Month. The National Aphasia Association says that over 2 million people in the U.S. have aphasia, but only 67.8% of Americans have ever heard the term aphasia. Unfortunately, this is due to the nature of the disorder. Aphasia is a disorder that affects how you communicate. It can impact your speech, as well as the way you write and understand both spoken and written language. Aphasia usually happens suddenly after a stroke or a head injury, but it can also develop slowly due to a brain tumor, an infection, or a degenerative disease. 

    Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. These areas are usually located on the left side of the brain for most people. The type and severity of aphasia depends on which areas are damaged and how much damage there is. 

    Types of Aphasia 

    There are many types of aphasia, but they can be broadly classified into two categories: fluent and nonfluent. 

    Fluent aphasia means that the person can produce speech with normal rhythm and flow, but the speech may not make sense or may contain made-up words. The person may also have difficulty understanding what others say. The most common type of fluent aphasia is Wernicke’s aphasia, which affects the temporal lobe of the brain. 

    Nonfluent aphasia means that the person has trouble producing speech or can only produce short phrases or single words with great effort. The person may understand what others say better than they can speak. The most common type of nonfluent aphasia is Broca’s aphasia, which affects the frontal lobe of the brain. 

    Diagnosis and Treatment 

    To diagnose aphasia, a doctor will ask about the person’s medical history, perform a physical and neurological examination, and conduct some language tests. The doctor may also order some imaging tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan, to check for any abnormalities in the brain. 

    The treatment for aphasia depends on the cause, type, and severity of the disorder. The main form of treatment is speech and language therapy, which aims to improve the person’s communication skills, restore their language abilities, or find alternative ways of expressing themselves. The therapy may involve exercises, games, computer programs, or devices that help with speech production or comprehension. 

    Some people may also benefit from medications, surgery, or other treatments that address the underlying cause of their aphasia, such as stroke, head injury, or brain tumor. 

    Living with Aphasia 

    Aphasia can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, affecting their personal, social, and professional relationships. Aphasia can also lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, anxiety, and depression. 

    However, there are ways to cope with aphasia and improve one’s well-being. Some tips include: 

    – Joining a support group for people with aphasia or their caregivers 

    – Using gestures, drawings, pictures, or other tools to aid communication 

    – Practicing communication skills at home with family and friends 

    – Reading books, magazines, or online articles that are suitable for one’s level of comprehension 

    – Listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks that are enjoyable and stimulating 

    – Engaging in hobbies or activities that are fun and relaxing 

    Aphasia is a challenging disorder that requires patience and perseverance from both the person affected and their loved ones. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and support, many people with aphasia can improve their communication skills and live fulfilling lives. If you or a loved one are living with aphasia and looking for help to improve your communication skills, contact Speech Care at Home at (813) 344-3207 today.