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Aphasia – what you should know

“I know what I want to say, but I just can’t say it”

Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by a dysfunction in the brain. It can negatively impact all modalities of language:

  • Speaking
  • Understanding
  • Reading
  • Writing

Individuals with aphasia might use their words incorrectly, for example, saying ‘bable’ when they really mean ‘table’ or ‘fridge’ when they really mean ‘kettle’. Other times no words come out at all. Individuals can find it difficult to understand conversations, especially in group situations. Even reading or creating a simple text message may be challenging for individuals with aphasia.

Because individuals with aphasia have difficulty communicating, others often misinterpret this as a mental illness or an issue with intelligence. But Aphasia categorially does not affect an individual’s intelligence.

What causes aphasia?

  • Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia
  • Brain tumours (even when the tumour has been surgically removed)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Infections (e.g. encephalitis, meningitis, brain abscess)
  • Degenerative neurological conditions (e.g. dementia)

Sometimes temporary episodes of aphasia occur as a result of:

  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)

Aphasia is often a sign of a serious problem, such as stroke, and emergency medical care is needed.

What are the implications of aphasia?

The published literature has shown individuals with aphasia:

  • may experience depression
  • are less likely to return to work
  • experience impacts to their relationships
  • may start to experience social isolation
  • may start to experience deterioration in their quality of life

How is aphasia diagnosed?

  • A healthcare professional will likely undertake a neurological exam (e.g., test your motor skills, sensation, reflexes etc) and undergo an MRI or CT to help determine the cause of the aphasia.
  • A speech-language pathologist will complete a comprehensive language assessment to confirm the presence of aphasia and identify the language areas that have been impaired and those that remain intact.

Aphasia treatment with specialist staff at Adaptability Therapy

At Adaptability Therapy we have dedicated speech pathologists that are aphasia specialists. They provide comprehensive standardised assessments, differentially diagnose, and deliver holistic management to maximise the quality of life for individuals living with aphasia.

Our approach is based on translating research into clinical practice to create a client-centred treatment plan. Our clients set their own goals and work collaboratively with their speech pathologist to achieve these goals. Treatment is often a combination of different methods, including:

  • Computer-based therapy
  • Functional tasks
  • Communication partner training with significant others
  • Assistive technology to augment talking if needed (e.g., iPad with a speech generating app)
  • Offer links to support groups

Please contact the Adaptability Therapy team if you are interested in finding out more about our services for individuals with aphasia.

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