Why am I not able to form complete sentences or phrases? Scroll down this article to learn about aphasia, its causes, and ways to cope with it.
Aphasia is a language disorder that typically occurs after a brain injury or stroke. This condition damages the portion of the brain that is responsible for processing language. Our brain is divided into two halves, the left, and the right sides. When the left side of the brain is damaged or affected, then the language skills are impaired. It differs from individual to individual depending on the site of the brain that is affected, the extent of damage, the age of the person, and the overall health. Aphasia can be seen in people of any age but is more likely to happen in middle-aged and older adults. Depending on all these factors, the extent of recovery and the speed of recovery varies from person to person.
Aphasia refers to a disorder that affects the areas of the brain that are responsible for the production and process of language. A person suffering from aphasia may have problems with speaking, reading, writing, and understanding a language. In a few cases, people with aphasia may have trouble in one particular area of communication, such as putting words together, not being able to form a sentence, or finding it hard to read. They may even not be able to understand what others are saying. However, people with aphasia face problems with more than one area of communication.
From different studies, it was found that particular areas of communication were damaged in different individuals affected with aphasia. There are different types and patterns of aphasia that correspond to the location of the brain injury. Here are a few types of aphasia:
Primary progressive aphasia.
Mixed non-fluent aphasia.
Other types of aphasia.
Global aphasia is considered to be the most severe form of aphasia. In this type, the person can neither read nor write. They can only speak a few recognizable words and can understand a little of what others say. This type of aphasia is seen immediately after the patient has been affected by a stroke. The symptoms can improve if the damage is not too extensive. But greater the brain damage, severe and lasting, is the disability.
In this type of aphasia, the speaking ability is greatly reduced and is limited to short utterances or phrases less than four words to five words. This person with Broca's aphasia can understand quite well what others are trying to say and will also be able to read. The only limitation will be that the person will be finding difficulty in writing. This type of aphasia is also known as "non-fluent aphasia" because of the difficulty and effort the person needs to put into speaking.
With Wernicke’s aphasia, the person's speech is normal, but the sentences do not hang together. Reading and writing are often impaired. They will not have the ability to grasp the meaning of the words spoken by others. It is otherwise referred to as "fluent aphasia" because the person can produce many words and speak using grammatically correct sentences. But in most cases, what they say does not make any sense, and they fail to realize that they are using the wrong words or are unaware that what they are saying has no sense or meaning.
Primary Progressive Aphasia:
In this type, the language capabilities are gradually impaired. It is caused due to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Primary progressive aphasia results due to deterioration of brain tissue that is responsible for speech and language.
People with anomic aphasia have difficulty finding words. As a result, their speech can be vague. They can understand what others are saying as well as they will be able to read. However, there is difficulty in choosing the right word. Though they know the word in their mind, they fail to put in words or phrases.
Mixed Non-fluent Aphasia:
This form of aphasia is somewhat similar to Broca's aphasia. In this mixed non-fluent type, the person will not be able to read or write beyond an elementary level. Their speech seems to be effortful.
Other Types of Aphasia:
There are various other possible combinations of deficits that do not fit into the above categories. Such cases include:
Reading disorders (alexia).
Writing disorders (agraphia).
Aphasia is usually caused due to damage to the language-dominant area of the brain. The damage can be caused due to the following conditions:
Infection in the brain.
Tumor in the brain.
Blood clots in the brain.
The signs and symptoms differ in every individual based on the portion of the brain that is affected or damaged by any brain injury or stroke.
Here is a list of a few signs that are commonly seen in people with aphasia:
Finding difficulty in forming a sentence.
Not being able to put words together.
Cannot think of the words you want to say.
Use sounds in the place of words.
Trouble understanding what others say.
Difficulty in reading.
Jumbling the words in the wrong order.
Having trouble writing the spelling.
Making up words.
Answering in single words or in short phrases with much difficulty.
Repeating the same words over and over.
Trouble naming places or people even though they are familiar with that person.
Substituting a wrong word or phrase that does not make any sense or meaning.
Using numbers or doing calculations.
Aphasia is generally diagnosed by a set of comprehensive language tests. The language tests include speaking, naming, repetition of words, reading, comprehension, and writing. For further conclusive diagnosis, a few other recommended tests include:
The primary and foremost aim of the treatment is to improve the ability to communicate. Not all people can recover their complete communication skills, but definitely, there will be some improvement in communication.
The treatment depends on a number of factors such as:
If the patient has any previous medical conditions.
The overall health of the patient.
Cause that is responsible for the condition.
The extent of brain damage.
If the person is left-handed or right-handed.
And the symptoms the patient is reporting.
Various recommended treatment options are:
Speech Therapy: In this speech therapy, the patient is taught how to improve the existing language abilities, their language skills, and ways to communicate in a different way.
Note: The intensity and severity of aphasia are different for every individual. Not everyone learns in the same way, so the techniques used in speech therapy may differ
Non-Verbal Communication Therapy:
Non-verbal communication therapy helps the patient improve their communication abilities by assisting them in using other ways of communication such as gestures, pictures, or electronic devices.
Group Therapy (For Patients and Their Families):
Involving the families is a crucial part of the aphasia treatment as it helps the family members to learn the best ways to communicate with their loved ones. In comparison, individual therapy focuses on the particular needs of the patient, whereas group therapy helps the usage of new communication skills in a small group setting.
Melodic Intonation Therapy: In this therapy, the words or phrases the patient is struggling with are put or taught in the form of hummings or songs with rhythm. This stimulates brain activity and helps to increase the number of words the patient can say.
Promoting Aphasic's Communicative Effectiveness (PACE): This therapy improves the patients' communication skills by engaging them in a conversation.
Few steps that can help:
First, get their attention before you start talking.
Try to maintain eye contact with them.
Talk to them in a place where there are not many distractions.
You can talk in a normal voice and may require to talk louder when they ask you to talk.
Use short phrases. Repeat the keywords they want to understand.
Time and patience are a must, as it can take longer than normal for them to complete a sentence.
Guiding them in other formats such as drawing or writing to put their thoughts into words can also be helpful.
Let them make mistakes, do not stop them. Let them try it on their own. You help them only when they ask you for help.
The treatment for aphasia helps a person to improve their ability to communicate by restoring their language abilities or by helping them use other language abilities such as gestures, pictures, or electronic devices. People with aphasia can participate in other social activities like book or drama clubs to improve their confidence and social self-esteem.
Last reviewed at:
08 Apr 2022 - 6 min read
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