Aphasia is loss of the ability to understand or express spoken or written language. It is usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain. This term does not apply to children who have never developed communication skills.
Types of Aphasia
There are many different types of aphasia:
People with Wernicke’s aphasia often have serious comprehension difficulties. A person may say meaningless words that don’t make sense and may not realize these words are wrong. For example, a patient may call an apple a "dortog."
Broca’s aphasia, which often occurs as the result of a stroke, makes it difficult for a person to form complete sentences, understand sentences and express him or herself. A person may leave basic words out of sentences, making it hard to communicate with others.
Global aphasia often results from a stroke and makes it difficult for a person to understand and form words and sentences. Global is different from broca's aphasia because persons with global have more difficulty with comprehension. Also, broca's is a result of injury to the frontal part of the left side of the brain, while global results from damage to frontal and back portions of the left side of the brain.
Conduction aphasia (also called associative aphasia) is a rare form of aphasia that is usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain, usually a stroke. A person may have good comprehension and speech but cannot repeat correctly what is said. A person may also transpose words so that they do not make sense.
Transcortical Motor Aphasia
Transcortical motor aphasia often results from a cerebrovascular accident or stroke. A person usually has good comprehension but can only say a sentence that is 1 or 2 words long and has difficulty writing. However, a person can often repeat words or sentences.
Transcortical Sensory Aphasia
Transcortical sensory aphasia is also due to damage to the left side of the brain, most usually a stroke. Deficits include poor comprehension, difficulty understanding others and naming. However, patients usually speak at a normal or rapid rate and will be able to repeat what others say.
Mixed Transcortical Aphasia
Mixed transcortical aphasia, the least common of the 3 transcortical aphasias, is rare. A person may have severe speaking and comprehension impairment, but can repeat long sentences or songs.
People with anomic aphasia have difficulty finding the right words for speaking and writing. For example, a person may know exactly what he or she wants to say, but cannot find the words to use. This can be very frustrating for both patients and caregivers.
Aphasia Diagnosis and Treatment
Your treatment for aphasia will depend on the type of aphasia you have. At Wake Forest Baptist, our speech-language pathologists will meet with you, take a medical history and perform any diagnostic tests needed.
This information will be used to establish a treatment plan that is right for you. Our speech-language pathologists work closely with each patient, customizing therapeutic tasks to help improve expressive and receptive language and speech. For example, if you have a type of aphasia that makes it difficult to understand what others are saying, therapy may target comprehension activities.