Aphasia

1 What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that affects the ability to communicate. Patients with aphasia are unable to express and understand language, read and write, as others do. It is caused by damage to the part of the brain that is responsible for language development and expression.

Symptoms of aphasia may appear suddenly after a brain injury or gradually over a period of time. Other speech disorders like dysarthria are also seen associated with aphasia.

Speech and language therapy are the treatment strategies for this disorder. In this method the person learns other means of communication to compensate for the loss of language skills.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of aphasia may appear suddenly after a brain injury or gradually over a period of time. Other speech disorders like dysarthria are also seen associated with aphasia.

Aphasia is a disorder that affects the ability to communicate. Patients with aphasia are unable to express and understand language, read and write, as others do. It is caused by damage to the part of the brain that is responsible for language development and expression.

Speech and language therapy are the treatment strategies for this disorder. In this method the person learns other means of communication to compensate for the loss of language skills.

Symptoms

Severity of symptoms depend on the extent of brain damage and the area of brain affected. Common symptoms of aphasia are

  • Using incomplete sentences
  • Using sentences that does not make sense
  • Replacing one word for another
  • Using different sound in place of original
  • Using meaningless words
  • Unable to understand conversations

Aphasia is of different types – non-fluent, fluent, and global.

Non-fluent aphasia – also known as Broca aphasia, this type is caused by damage to the left frontal area of the brain. People with this type of aphasia often omit words and prefer to speak in short sentences. They struggle to use the appropriate words in a sentence. They are able to understand conversation, but feel frustrated that they are unable to communicate the same way as others do. Paralysis or weakness of the right side is often seen along with Broca aphasia.

Fluent aphasia – also known as Wernicke aphasia, this disorder results from damage to the language region in the middle part of the left side in brain. Patients with this type of disorder can speak fluently. They use long, complex sentences filled with meaningless or unrecognizable words. They often use inappropriate or incorrect words in the sentences. They are unable to understand conversations, but are unaware of their mistakes. They do not realize that others cannot understand their way of communication.

Global aphasia – this disorder results from damage to extensive parts of language regions in the brain. It is characterized by severe communication difficulties. They are limited in their ability to speak or understand language.

3 Causes

Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, as lack of blood to some parts of the brain results in cell death or cell damage.

Infection, severe head injury, tumor, or a degenerative process also result in aphasia.

In these cases, aphasia is associated with other cognitive issues like memory loss or confusion.

Gradual degeneration of the language parts of the brain cause primary progressive aphasia. This may develop into generalized dementia over a period of time.

Migraines, seizures, and transient ischemic attack may also cause temporary aphasia.

4 Making A Diagnosis

Physical and neurological examination helps in making a diagnosis of aphasia. Testing reflexes, and ability to follow commands and questions provide clue regarding the disorder.

Doctors assess the patient’s language skills including:

  • Naming common objects
  • Ability to use appropriate words and phrases
  • Answering questions and commands
  • Repeat words
  • Follow commands and instruction
  • Response to yes-no questions
  • Ability to read and write

5 Treatment

Aphasia may not need specific treatment if there is mild damage to the brain. Language skills can be improved with language and speech therapy. It also helps to supplement their communication.

Speech and language rehabilitation – This method helps to resolve the language issues gradually. It is hard to regain full communication skills. It teaches to compensate for the lost skills by using other communication methods. It is most effective if the therapy is started early and when worked in groups.

Computer-assisted therapy aids in relearning verbs and sounds.

6 Prevention

There are no standard ways of preventing aphasia. Reducing the risk factors that affect the language centers of brain is the best way to avoid aphasia.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Several alternative and homeopathic remedies exist for aphasia.

In homeopathy, arnica montana is suggested in case of aphasia due to head injury.

Glonoinum is recommended in aphasia caused by congestion of brain.

Cell salts and herbs are also considered to be effective in treating the condition to a certain extent.

Grape seed extract, fish oils, and phosphatidylserine, are supplements for learning disabilities and language issues.

Bacopa, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, mucuna, Melissa, scullcap, and vinpocetine are suggested in treating aphasia.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Family involvement is very important in coping with aphasia. Making languages simple and uncomplicated helps to communicate better with the patients.

Other tips include:

  • Encourage communications
  • Reduce distractions like TV or radio
  • Include the patient in family matters
  • Allow the person to talk
  • Maintain a normal conversation

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks associated with aphasia.

Communication problems may affect job, relationships, and even day-to-day activities of the person. It often causes embarrassment and depression in the patient.

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