I hadn’t heard of Aphasia until mum went into hospital and I saw it on the bottom of her chart. The chart that nobody ever read before caring for her.
Once I knew what it was, it was like a lightbulb going off in my head. Finally, I knew what to call that thing going on with her speech and language.
So – What is Aphasia?
Aphasia, also sometimes called dysphasia, is a language and communication condition that is caused by damage to the language centres of the brain by injury or illness such as :
- head injuries
- brain tumours
- other brain conditions such as dementia
Aphasia is commonly linked to strokes, but only around a third of those who have a stroke, also suffer with Aphasia.
Symptoms of Aphasia
People with Aphasia have many different symptoms, but tend to struggle with expressive language. Some of the symptoms overlap with those of dementia, and although common with dementia, the two are different problems for those with dementia. Coupled with memory loss and difficulties remembering how to do things, they might also struggle with:
- understanding what others say
- using numbers to add, subtract, multiply or divide
- understanding bills, money and timescales
- telling the time
People with Aphasia may still be able to think correctly, but will struggle to form the response in the correct order. To make it even more unpredictable, it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.
How is Aphasia diagnosed?
- repeat words and phrases back to the professional
- asking them to read and write, to check their responses make sense
- naming objects via images or items in the room
- count backwards
The professional is looking to find out how much a person:
- understands of what they are being asked
- understands simple speech and grammar
- understands simple commands and can follow them through
- expresses words, phrases and sentences in response
- concentrates on a conversation
- reads and writes letters, words and sentences appropriately
You may receive speech and language therapy on an individual basis or in a group, depending on your needs and the service provided.
In the circumstances where Aphasia is caused by dementia, treatment may be more limited, as it must concentrate on what they can already do, as trying to teach something new is likely to cause problems.
What Problems Might Aphasia Cause?
- Where dementia is involved, aphasia means that speech and language might be muddled. They might know what you say and know what they want to say, but their brain muddles up the words and it can come out as gibberish.
- You may be speaking too fast, with too long sentences, or not giving them enough time to process what you’ve said, and be able to form a reply in their heads.
- People with Aphasia might become isolated and anxious, because they cannot communicate their needs with others.
- Depression may result.
If someone you know with Aphasia enters hospital, it will be beneficial for it to be written at the very front of their notes, and on the board above the top of their bed, so that everyone who communicates with them, understands their problems.