Aphasia is a language disorder caused by brain damage. People with aphasia have difficulty choosing and using language to speak, read, write, and understand things.
Aphasia may occur as a result of injury or brain injury. Factors causing injuries may include accidents, strokes, brain tumors, or dementia. Injury causes impaired blood flow to the brain. This will lead to blockage of the blood vessels and ultimately cerebral haemorrhage.
Apart from brain injury, aphasia can also develop due to certain diseases such as epilepsy or neurological disorders.
Aphasia is divided into several types:
- Global aphasia. This is the most severe condition of aphasia and generally occurs in patients who have recently had a stroke. Patients diagnosed with global aphasia are neither able to understand other people’s words nor to speak.
- Anomic aphasia. Patients with anomic aphasia have difficulty determining the right words to use when communicating.
- Primary progressive aphasia. This is considered a rare type of aphasia. Patients diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia experience a gradual loss in their ability to understand what others are saying.
- Expressive aphasia. Patients with this type of aphasia understand what they want to say and words they need to use. However, they will have a hard time saying it.
- Receptive aphasia. Patients diagnosed with receptive aphasia are able to hear other people’s words clearly, but have difficulty understanding them.
- Transcortical sensory aphasia. This type of aphasia is relatively rare. Patients diagnosed with this type of aphasia are unable to understand what others are saying, but are still able to speak fluently.
- Transcortical motor aphasia. Patients with this type of aphasia have difficulty forming words – they are unable to say what they want to say directly.
Causes of Aphasia
The main factor for a person to develop aphasia is brain injury. Brain injury occurs due to a blockage or leakage in the blood vessels.
Blockages can occur due to the thickening or clotting of the blood vessel walls. Meanwhile, a leakage occurs due to weakened blood vessels – the aneurysm turns porous and subsequently leaks until it bursts.
Blood vessels blockage or leakage can occur due to other brain conditions such as:
- Brain infection
- Head injury
- Dementia and other nerve disorders that cause a degeneration of brain cells
- Brain tumor.
When to See a Doctor for Aphasia?
Aphasia can be diagnosed by a neurologist. A specialist doctor or language therapist will order a series of tests. The tests consists of simple exercises such as asking the patient to say the name of an object in the room, repeating words and sentences, and conducting writing and reading tests.
The objectives of the tests include:
- Help the patient understand the basis of discussion.
- Help the patient express what they want to say with words, phrases and sentences.
- Help the patient improve social communication skills
To identify the brain injury that causes aphasia, the doctor may recommend CT scans and MRIs.
Symptoms of Aphasia
The symptoms of aphasia include:
- Speech impairment. People with aphasia who learn more than one language might communicate using unusual language. The language used depends on what language is used most often, when it was learned, and how fluent you are.
- Writing impairments. People with aphasia will have difficulty writing, even if it is only one word. They will also find it difficult to spell sentences in the correct order of letters.
- Reading impairments. People with aphasia tend to have difficulty comprehending written words. They are also unable to express the words that have been read.
There are also other common symptoms of aphasia, including:
- Difficulty speaking in groups or in noisy places.
- Difficulty understanding or telling jokes.
- Inability to say their own name and the names of other family members.
- Difficulty having a conversation
Treatment for Aphasia
The main treatment for aphasia is through speech and language therapy. The objective of this therapy is to partially restore the patient’s ability to speak, communicate, or find ways to communicate with other people.
The doctor or therapist will determine if a therapy is suitable for the patient to improve his/her social communication skills. There are many computer softwares that can support therapy and recovery for people with aphasia. However, direct therapy is still considered more effective to treat aphasia.
The success rate of language therapy depends on the condition of each patient. If aphasia is caused by other diseases such as stroke – language skills can slowly improve with therapy. However, if aphasia is caused by dementia, then the patient is unlikely to improve their language skills.
Aphasia can cause complications if not treated properly. In some cases, complications include depression and anxiety.
Treatment Cost for Aphasia
The cost for aphasia treatment varies – depending on the causes and the degree of severity.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of aphasia treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Aphasia
In general, aphasia occurs due to an injury or a brain injury. Stroke is one of the most common causes of aphasia.
Preventive measures to prevent stroke and aphasia include:
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Routinely control and maintain blood pressure.
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Control stress
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Aphasia
When treating aphasia, therapy not only helps restore language skills, but also calm the patient’s emotions and mental state. In people with acute aphasia, it is important for the patient’s family to show emotional support to speed up recovery.
There are several ways to treat patients diagnosed with aphasia at home, including:
- Speak slowly
- Use props to communicate
- Give a compliment when the patient tries to communicate
- Ask simple questions with “yes” or “no” answers
- Before starting to speak, make sure the patient pays attention
- Avoid eye contact, pay attention to the patient’s gesture or body language
- Write or describe the message you want to convey on a piece of paper
- Be patient when the patient tries to communicate
- Convey words of encouragement to the patient
- Try to communicate with the patient on a daily basis as often as possible