Aphasia is defined as a difficulty with language (reading, understanding, speaking or writing) that results from damage to a specific area of the brain. The most common cause of aphasia is a stroke, however, aphasia may result from a traumatic brain injury, brain tumour or other cause.
Although as many as a third of people who have a stroke also have aphasia, aphasia is a little known and understood condition.
Aphasia can look different from person to person and varies significantly in its’ severity. What’s important to note, is that aphasia does not impact a person’s intelligence, only their language. Many of our clients with aphasia know exactly what they would like to say, but are unable to access the language they need, which can lead to high levels of frustration and sadness.
Some of the signs of aphasia can include:
Difficulties with auditory comprehension:
Not being able to understand what someone has said. This can range from not being able to understand any language, to having difficulty understanding a very complex conversation.
Difficulties with reading comprehension:
Not being able to understand written language. This can lead people with aphasia to be unable to read at all or to have difficulties with reading very complex material such as books or newspapers.
Difficulties with verbal expression:
People with aphasia are frequently unable to find the words they’d like to say. They frequently know what they’d like to say and may feel that the word is ‘at the tip of their tongue’ but they can be unable to access it. Difficulties in this area can also vary in severity with some people unable to say any words and others having mild difficulties finding words.
Difficulties with writing:
Frequently, people with aphasia have difficulties with writing which can range from being unable to write to having difficulties with spelling or the selection of letters.
Sometimes when a person has aphasia, they may also experience difficulties in their relationships with others and changes to their mood. When we use language, we use it in interaction with others and when language is difficult to access it can change the way people relate to their significant others or express themselves.
The role of Speech Pathologists and Aphasia
Speech pathologists work with clients to help them to understand and use language. We aim to support clients to build on their ability to understand others, express their needs and thoughts and engage with reading and writing.
Functional and personalised goal setting is important for people with aphasia as what might be important to one person may not be important to another. It’s also important to help family members to understand aphasia and their loved one’s difficulties and also to support relationships to flourish in the presence of the challenges aphasia may create.
Please get in touch with us if you or someone you know would like to learn more or discuss options for Aphasia treatment.
To know more about Aphasia in Australia, go to https://aphasia.org.au/
Rehab Solutions Adelaide Team