What is global aphasia?, an article posted by www.strokesupport.com

Global aphasia is an acquired language disorder involving severe impairments in both comprehension and production.

What causes global aphasia?

It is caused by injuries to language-processing areas of the brain, notably Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. Most often, the injuries are the result of a large middle-cerebral-artery stroke.
What are its symptoms?

The symptoms of global aphasia reflect processing difficulties in Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. These areas would ordinarily assign words and meanings, string words together, and complete other word-based tasks. Thus, the symptoms of global aphasia are impairments in all aspects of word-based communication — reading, writing, speaking, and understanding speech.

The exact symptoms vary from individual to individual. For example, some globally aphasic persons do not understand speech at all, while others recognize familiar personal names and are able to follow whole-body commands. Similarly, some individuals are mute, while others can produce a few sounds (e.g., “ta, ta”) or stereotypic phrases (e.g., “we said”). While no aspect of language is functional, certain aspects may be more impaired than others.

Do other conditions accompany global aphasia?

Yes, particularly if the brain injuries extend beyond Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. Accompanying conditions include hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body), facial apraxia (difficulty coordinating facial movements), and emotional lability (difficulty regulating emotions).

Depression is another condition that is associated with global aphasia. Feelings of sadness may result directly from the brain injuries; they may also be a response to the loss of abilities.

How is this disorder diagnosed and evaluated?

Aphasias are diagnosed and evaluated through testing, which may involve asking the person to name objects, answer questions, and follow commands. Often, the first test is administered by a physician who suspects aphasia. Further tests are usually administered by a speech/language pathologist, a professional who is trained to identify the type of aphasia and assess remaining language skills.

A specialized instrument known as the Boston Assessment of Severe Aphasia (BASA) may be used during the evaluation. BASA is designed to be administered to individuals who have severe language impairments and facial apraxia.

Are therapies available for global aphasia?

Yes. A speech/language pathologist may employ a variety of methods to help the person communicate.
[Ed. note: Computer-assisted speech therapy can be quite effective, convenient and economical. Product descriptions and free demos of Bungalow Software's aphasia therapy programs are available online. Programs were developed and tested by a speech therapist. ]

Therapy should begin as soon as possible, and it should be expected to be long term: Global aphasics tend to make gains later than other aphasics.

How can I communicate with someone who has this disorder?

Communicating with a globally aphasic person requires us to reduce our reliance on complex speech. Fortunately, communication does not require word-packed sentences. Consider the four general strategies below.

Tactile Strategy — Use touch to gain the person’s attention and to show your support.

Visual Strategy — Use simple gestures and facial expressions. Take advantage of visual cues that have been learned in therapy.

Simplified-Speech Strategy — First, minimize distractions. Then, speak slowly, using simple words, in a tone that is appropriate for the person’s maturity level. Allow more time for responses, and try to let the person speak for himself or herself.

Combination Strategy — Reinforce your speech with other communication methods. You can, for example, couple a visual “Hello” with the greeting, and point to objects as you talk about them. By reinforcing your speech, you may be helping the person to make associations that he or she will use in the future.

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