What is aphasia?
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. Aphasia impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia can occur suddenly, often the result of stroke, or it can occur over a period of time as a result of a brain tumor.

What causes aphasia?
Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain, most commonly from stroke. However, it can result from gun shot wounds, blows to the head, cerebral tumor, and other brain injuries.

What types of aphasia are there?
Broca’s aphasia- an inability to express language and articulate sentences correctly. These people have suffered damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. Speech tends to be non-fluent, minimal or disjointed and grammar is impaired, but comprehension is not greatly affected. Reading and writing can also be affected.

Wernicke’s aphasia -difficulty in understanding language, despite retaining normal intelligence in other ways. People with Wernicke’s aphasia talk fluently and grammatically, but the content is garbled or nonsensical. Reading and writing can also be impaired. These people have suffered damage to the temporal lobe (towards the rear of the brain). They may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, or even create new words. They usually have no body weakness because their brain injury is not near the parts of the brain that control movement.

People with Global aphasia have suffered damage to extensive portions of the brain. These people have severe communication difficulties and may be limited in their ability to speak or comprehend language.

Can aphasia be temporary?
Yes. This type of aphasia is called transient aphasia. Transient aphasia refers to a communication problem that lasts only a few hours or days.

Who can have aphasia?
Aphasia may occur in people of any age, sex, race, or nationality.

Can aphasia patients live “normal” lives?
Yes! With a great deal of support and constant hard work, an aphasic patient can indeed live a normal life. The Aphasia Hope Foundation wants to relay this message to the thousands of people suffering from aphasia.

How many people have aphasia?
According to the American Academy of Neurology, 700,000 people incur strokes each year resulting in at least 80,000 new cases of aphasia annually. The NIH estimates that there are over one million Americans who have aphasia. About one-third of severely head injured persons are aphasic.

Can aphasia be cured?
Thus far, no medicine, drugs, or surgery has been known to cure aphasia. Speech therapy is often provided to aphasic patients, but it does not guarantee a cure. Speech therapy is intended to help the patient utilize the remaining skills and learn complementary means of communication. Research and surgeries in the areas of brain repair and regeneration may provide for a “partial cure” in the near future.

Can aphasia be prevented?
Currently there are no steps to prevent aphasia in the event of a stroke or head trauma. Some studies have cited several possible contributing factors to the onset of aphasia such as a high cholesterol level, but no conclusive results have been released. The condition is determined by the location and size of the area of damage to the brain.

What do I know about Stroke?
Prevention.com has a valuable list of questions to ask your doctor. Click on Prevention.com for this valuable information.