What is Aphasia? The disorder, it’s effects, and treatment
You will learn… • Definition • Types of Aphasia • Symptoms of Aphasia • Treatment for Aphasia • Funding sources • Resources
Definition • Aphasia is a language disorder • It can cause problems with understanding, speaking, reading or writing, and is primarily caused by stroke. • A person with aphasia typically maintains their cognitive skills and have NOT lost their intelligence. • More people have Aphasia than Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, or Muscular Dystrophy, yet most people have never heard of it.
How is Aphasia primarily required? • Stroke (cerebral vascular accident or CVA) • Head trauma (traumatic brain injury or TBI) • Brain tumors • Brain infections • Other neurological causes
Common types of Aphasia Fluent Aphasia Fluent Aphasia (also known as receptive aphasia) the ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words and sentences is impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not very affected. Reading and writing are often severely impaired. Nonfluent Aphasia Progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) is one of three clinical syndromes associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. PNFA has an insidious onset of language deficits over time as opposed to other stroke-based aphasias, which occur acutely following trauma to the brain. Global Aphasia Global Aphasia is considered the most severe. These individuals will have a great deal of trouble speaking, understanding, writing and reading, but again, skills may vary. For example, they may be better at understanding than at speaking or vice versa.
Common characteristics • The challenges that people with aphasia have will be very different. The symptoms will vary greatly between individuals, but what they all have in common is the challenge of communicating. • Some people may also demonstrate a level of difficulty with writing, understanding, and/or reading.
Common characteristics continued… • People may have trouble speaking and writing. For example: • Have difficulty finding the word they want to say • Be able to only say one or two words at a time • Leave words out of sentences making it difficult to be understood • Have trouble putting words together that make a sentence make sense to their reader/listener • Have problems spelling words • Say yes when they mean no • People with these challenges often have what is commonly known as Broca’s Aphasia because it occurs when Broca’s area of the brain incurs the injury.
More common characteristics • People may have trouble understanding (making sense of what is being said) and reading. For example: • Be unable to follow even very simple directions • Need information repeated or said in a different way • Have difficulty following conversations • May need visual cues to help them understand • Have trouble understanding print • Speak words that don’t make sense and at the same time, know that others don’t understand them. • Receptive Aphasia is often referred to as Wernicke’s Aphasia because it occurs when Wernicke’s Area of the brain incurs the injury.
Primary Progressive Aphasia • A less common type of aphasia where people slowly lose their ability to talk, read, write and comprehend over time. • Typically in conjunction with dementia or a progressive neurological disease. • Unlike with a stroke or brain trauma, there is no treatment to reverse this aphasia.
A person with Aphasia may also have: • Dysarthria - slurred, quiet or nasal speech caused by muscle weakness or tightness • Apraxia – a motor-muscle impairment caused by problems getting speech muscles to do what the brain wants them to do. This can cause mixed-up sounds in words, saying wrong words or sounds, saying different sounds and/or words every time, or struggling to say words
Additional features of Aphasia • Aphasia ROBS you of your ability to communicate! • Aphasia does not discriminate. All ages, races, nationalities and gender may get aphasia. • A person may also have physical disabilities including weakness or paralysis of their right side.
Challenges Aphasia may cause for people The list is long: • Difficulties at work • Relationships • Day to day functions • Communicating w/in the Medical community • Shopping, eating out, transportation, telephone
Recovery • As a person’s brain heals, a person’s skills may improve. • Spontaneous recovery is improvement right after the stroke. (generally over a period of 6 months) • Recovery varies from person to person, ranging from days to little or no improvement over time. • A person with aphasia should seek treatment from a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who is trained to work with people who have speech and language problems like aphasia. • Treatment may happen in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, clinics, private practice, or the person’s home.
Speech Therapy Intervention • In speech therapy the SLP will: • Test a person’s language skills including their understanding of writing, and the understanding of objects and pictures. • Treat the problems the person is having. • Educate the person and their family in ways to communicate. • Identify the appropriateness of augmentative communication (AAC) methods if the person cannot communicate through natural means.
Communication Tips • Speak slowly • Give time for a response • Try gestures, drawing • Get person’s attention before speaking • Keep it simple – don’t talk down to the person • Some people are okay with you helping them to finish their sentence while others are not ok. Please ask the person. • Crowds and background noise can be difficult • Repeat • Keep them engaged in conversation • DO NOT IGNORE THEM IN A GROUP CONVERSATION
Funding sources • Insurance – may have caps or limited time period for services • Private pay
Resources To learn more about Aphasia, you can go to: • ASHA • www.asha.org • American Stroke Association • http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/ • University of Maine, Orono – Telepractice Group • Contact Person : Judy Walker at Judy_Perkins_Walker@umit.maine.edu • New England Rehab – Aphasia Services – support group and book club • http://www.nerhp.com/ • Aphasia Center of Maine or check local listings within your own state • https://www.aphasiacenterofmaine.org/ • National Aphasia Association • www.aphasia.org