Aphasia is a communication disorder. People with aphasia may have difficulty with the expression and/or understanding of language, as well as reading and writing.
Aphasia is caused by an injury to parts of the brain that are involved with language. The injury may be the result of: Stroke
, which is the most common cause
Severe blow to the headGunshot woundOther traumatic head injuryBrain tumorBrain infectionNeurodegenerative disordersOther brain conditions
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Factors that may increase your chances of developing aphasia include: Age: Older adultFamily history of aphasiaPrior history of transient ischemic attacks (TIA)—also called mini-strokes
Aphasia is a symptom of an underlying problem. It may include:
Speaking in short, fragmented phrasesPutting words in the wrong orderUsing incorrect grammarSwitching sounds or wordsSpeaking in nonsenseAnomia—word-finding problems
Problems understanding oral language:
Needing extra time to process languageDifficulty following very fast speechTaking the literal meaning of a figure of speechProblems readingProblems writing
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If you have a brain condition, you are probably already seeing a doctor who specializes in the nervous system. This doctor will most likely be able to recognize your aphasia. Some simple tests may be done. For example, you may be asked to follow commands, answer questions, name objects, and have a conversation. You may then be referred to a speech-language pathologist who will perform additional tests to assess your speech and language skills.
Images may be taken of structures inside your head. This can be done with: MRI scanCT scan
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with: Blood testsCerebrospinal fluid analysis
Your brain activity may be measured. This can be done with
You may also be given the following specialized tests: Evaluation of speechAssessment of the strength and coordination of the speech musclesVocabulary and grammar testsComprehension testsReading and writing testsSwallowing testsNeuropsychological tests
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will focus on: Treating the underlying cause of aphasiaAphasia symptoms
Options for treating aphasia itself include:
A speech-language specialist will help you: Use your remaining communication abilitiesRestore lost abilitiesLearn to compensate for language problemsLearn other methods of communicating.
This therapy may take place in both individual and group settings.
A speech-language therapist will help you and your family learn how to best communicate with each other.
Psychological evaluation may also be helpful.
The most common cause of aphasia is stroke.
To help reduce your chances of a stroke: Exercise regularlyEat plenty of fruits and vegetablesLimit dietary salt and fatStop smokingIf you drink, do so in moderation.Maintain an healthy weightMonitor and control your blood pressureConsider taking low-dose aspirin, if your physician advises you do so.
Keep existing conditions, such as
, under control.
Seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms of a stroke
Last reviewed May 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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