Aphasia is a language disorder following neurological damage, typically following a stroke. Aphasia is an acquired language disorder meaning that you cannot be born with it. Everyone with aphasia has word-finding problems to some severity.

What are signs of aphasia?

In general, aphasia is a loss of language and difficulty word finding. The signs and symptoms of aphasia will vary based on the exact site of damage. Aphasia affects language across modalities: expressive language (word finding), auditory comprehension, reading, and writing. Every aphasia diagnosis will impact these 4 modalities; however, the type of Aphasia will impact the severity to which they are affected.

Individuals with aphasia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Word substitutions
  • Use of nonsense words
  • Slow, halting speech with frequent grammatical errors

What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is typically caused by a stroke or other head injury.

What are the different types of aphasia?

There are 8 types of aphasia: Broca’s, Wernicke’s, transcortical motor, transcortical sensory, mixed transcortical, anomic, and conduction. The two most common types of aphasia being Broca’s aphasia and Wernicke’s aphasia.

Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s aphasia occurs after damage to Broca’s area in the left frontal lobe of the brain. Broca’s is a non-fluent aphasia consisting of slow, laborious, halting speech. A person with Broca’s will often be missing function words, but have content words in their speech. Comprehension is relatively preserved in a patient with Broca’s aphasia. It is very common for Apraxia to co-occur with Broca’s aphasia due to the proximity of Broca’s area to the motor planning strip of the brain.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia occurs after damage to Wernicke’s area in the left temporal lobe of the brain. Wernicke’s aphasia is a fluent aphasia, meaning that they can produce well-formed sentences, but the sentences do not hold any meaning. It is very common in Wernicke’s aphasia to exhibit semantic paraphasias like saying son for daughter. Both auditory and written comprehension is impaired in Wernicke’s aphasia.

What does treatment for aphasia look like?

Aphasia can be treated with two types of approaches: restorative and compensatory. Restorative approaches are focused on improving or restoring the impaired functions. Compensatory approaches are focused on compensating for the deficits. The approach that is chosen needs to be person and family centered. The treatment plan should be created with the patient and their family’s wishes forefront.