Aphasia: What is, Symptoms, What Causes, Diagnosis

Aphasia is a condition that affects your ability to communicate, can affect speech, way you write & understand both spoken & written language

Aphasia: What is, Symptoms, What Causes, Diagnosis

A condition that affects your ability to communicate. It can affect your speech, as well as the way you write and understand both spoken and written language.

It typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of aphasia depends on a number of conditions, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.

What is Aphasia

According to National Institute of Health (NIH) of the US government, aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. The damages could be caused by stroke, tumour or head injury. It affects the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. 

A disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders, such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.

Most people who have aphasia are middle-aged or older, but anyone can acquire it, including young children. About 1 million people in the United States currently have aphasia, and nearly 180,000 Americans acquire it each year, according to the National Aphasia Association.

Aphasia: What is, Symptoms, What Causes, Diagnosis

It is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Most often, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a leaking or burst vessel cuts off blood flow to part of the brain. Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients. Other causes of brain injury are severe blows to the head, brain tumors, gunshot wounds, brain infections, and progressive neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.


It’s is a sign of some other condition, such as a stroke or a brain tumor.

A person with it may :

  • Speak in short or incomplete sentences.
  • Speak in sentences that don’t make sense.
  • Substitute one word for another or one sound for another.
  • Speak unrecognizable words.
  • Not understand other people’s conversation.
  • Write sentences that don’t make sense.

Patterns of aphasia 


Aphasia: What is, Symptoms, What Causes, Diagnosis


People with aphasia may have different patterns of strengths and weaknesses.

  • Expressive :  This is also called Broca’s or nonfluent aphasia. People with this pattern of aphasia may understand what other people say better than they can speak. People with this pattern of aphasia struggle to get words out, speak in very short sentences and omit words. A person might say, “Want food” or “Walk park today.”
  • A listener can usually understand the meaning, but people with this aphasia pattern are often aware of their difficulty communicating and may get frustrated. They may also have right-sided paralysis or weakness.
  • Global :  This pattern is characterized by poor comprehension and difficulty forming words and sentences. Global aphasia results from extensive damage to the brain’s language networks. People with global aphasia have severe disabilities with expression and comprehension.

What Causes

The most common cause of it is brain damage resulting from a stroke — the blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Loss of blood to the brain leads to brain cell death or damage in areas that control language.

Brain damage caused by a severe head injury, a tumor, an infection or a degenerative process also can cause this. In these cases, the aphasia usually occurs with other types of cognitive problems, such as memory problems or confusion.

Aphasia: What is, Symptoms, What Causes, Diagnosis

Primary progressive is the term used for language difficulty that develops gradually. This is due to the gradual degeneration of brain cells located in the language networks. Sometimes this type will progress to a more generalized dementia.

Sometimes temporary episodes of it can occur. These can be due to migraines, seizures or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA occurs when blood flow is temporarily blocked to an area of the brain. People who’ve had a TIA are at an increased risk of having a stroke in the near future.


Once the cause has been addressed, the main treatment for aphasia is speech and language therapy. The person with aphasia relearns and practices language skills and learns to use other ways to communicate. Family members often participate in the process, helping the person communicate.










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