Aphasia is a condition when a person has a breakdown in communication. This generally affects language, speech, reading, or writing skills.
This disorder generally occurs due to damage to the brain. Damage can occur suddenly, such as a stroke or head injury. However, this condition can also appear gradually due to the slow or progressive growth and development of diseases in the brain.
The severity of this condition can vary. A person can experience very mild aphasia, which affects only one aspect of communication, such as difficulty mentioning the name of an object, combining words into sentences, or the ability to read. However, this condition can also be so severe that it is almost impossible to communicate with the sufferer.
This communication disorder can happen to anyone, regardless of age. However, aphasia is more common in people over the age of 65, as the risk of stroke and progressive nervous system disease tends to affect older persons.
Facts About Aphasia
- In the United States, approximately 1 million people suffered from aphasia as of 2017 .
- According to the National Aphasia Association, per year there are approximately 180,000 Americans who experience aphasia .
- 15-38% of ischemic stroke sufferers develop aphasia as a complicated condition .
- Between 1997-2006, every year aphasia sufferers increased by approximately 100,000 people in America .
This disorder can occur when the part of the brain that regulates language skills, is damaged by injury or disease. These include strokes, brain tumors, and traumatic brain injuries. Aphasia can develop gradually in people suffering from progressive nervous disorders.
Early treatment for aphasia focuses on treating the underlying disease. For example, stroke patients are treated with the aim of smoothing blood flow to the brain. While brain cancer patients may need to undergo surgery to remove tumors in the brain. Speech and language therapy can be started right after the procedure.
There are two types of aphasia, namely smooth and not smooth. People with fluent aphasia can compose sentences that are quite long, but often with the wrong word. On the other hand, people suffering from aphasia struggle to express words and pronounce them in very short sentences. For example, it might just say, “want cheese” or “go restaurant.”
Aphasia Risk Factors
In addition to some of the factors that are generally able to cause aphasia above, the following are also a number of factors that increase a person’s risk of developing aphasia, namely  :
- Hyperlipidemia disease (too high levels of fats in the blood).
- Hypertensive diseases
- Diabetic diseases
- Heart disease
- Old age (because the average stroke sufferer is the elderly, but it does not rule out the possibility that young stroke sufferers can experience aphasia as well).
- Excessive alcohol use or consumption.
- Smoking habit (too active or too excessive).
- Unhealthy diet.
- Genetic factors or family medical history (family members who have a stroke can increase the potential for a child or other family member to suffer from the same disease).
- Racial factors (stroke, diabetes or hypertension are much more likely to be suffered by people of African-American and Hispanic descent).
Aphasia in general can be caused by brain damage that starts from a stroke or the presence of an injury to the head or brain.
There are several types of aphasia with different symptoms, namely:
Global aphasia is the most severe type of aphasia. A person with global aphasia is only able to produce a few words that can be understood and cannot or only slightly understand when spoken to. These aphasia sufferers are neither able to read nor write.
Broca aphasia (non-fluent aphasia)
In this form of aphasia, speech is very limited and usually during the delivery of the language of the sufferer using short words (usually less than four words).
Vocabulary in Broca aphasia sufferers is very limited. Sufferers can generally understand the words presented to him quite well and are able to read, but are limited in writing.
Mixed non-fluent aphasia
In this aphasia, sufferers have difficulty saying words and a few words are spoken, similar to the severe state of Broca aphasia.
The difference is, the sufferer has difficulty understanding the words presented to him. Reading and writing skills are also very limited, similar to elementary school children.
In this aphasia, the production of words does not experience problems while the ability to understand the spoken word is impaired. As a result, sufferers generally speak using many words, creating long sentences, and often have no meaning.
A person with this aphasia will have difficulty finding the words necessary to convey his or her meaning, often this word is a noun or adjective.
If spoken, the sufferer will use too many words, even if correct in grammar. Understanding words are generally not problematic.
Progressive primary aphasia
Progressive primary aphasia is a neurological syndrome in which language ability is slowly and progressively impaired. This condition is caused by neurodegenerative problems, for example, due to Alzheimer’s disease.
In this case, there is damage to brain tissue that serves for language ability. Although language problems begin, at an advanced stage there can be other problems, such as memory loss.
Other types include different types of aphasia that do not fully fall into the categories described above. There can be a combination of several types of aphasia.
To determine the diagnosis of aphasia a thorough evaluation is required by the doctor. The examination can be done to assess the ability to understand words, questions, stories; mention words and sentences; writing and reading; convey ideas in other ways if there is difficulty speaking (e.g. With gestures, and so on).
Whatever type of aphasia occurs, as long as the condition of damage to the brain tends to be mild, then usually without special treatment the patient’s language skills will return well.
However, if the brain damage is serious enough, some of the following treatments are commonly obtained by people with aphasia.
1. Language and Speech Therapy
When brain damage occurs, be it due to an illness or injury, speech and language therapy is required by the patient to re-improve his communication ability [1,3,4, 5, 6,7].
With the development of technology, there is now a virtual therapy where patients can perform therapy assisted by a professional therapist through a computer that can be taken at home.
2. Treatment of Aphasia-causing Conditions
In dealing with aphasia, there is also the use of treatment methods for conditions that cause aphasia .
Whether it is an injury or illness, the condition needs to receive appropriate treatment through lifestyle changes, medical procedures, or medications.
If brain damage is associated with obstructed blood flow due to blood clots, then a blood thinner-like drug is needed by the patient.
But for this, consult further and in detail with the attending physician in order to understand also what are the side effects of the medications given.
3. Family Support
In the recovery period of aphasia patients, family support is instrumental in helping patients improve their communication skills again.
The role of the family in the recovery of aphasia patients in question includes [1,3, 6] :
- Supports processes of various types of communication, such as speaking, drawing, and body gestures.
- Support every therapy session taken by the patient.
- Give the patient more time to talk more.
- Avoid correcting the patient’s pronunciation while talking.
- Supporting patients to be outdoors with positive activities, including when patients join a community.
- Creating a conversation or communication that is natural and that is normally carried out by adults.
- Repeating sentences or words by speaking or writing them down as a form of clarification if necessary.
- Using sentences that are simple and easy for the patient to understand.
The treatment of aphasia can be done with language and speech therapy, treatment of the causes of aphasia itself (including changes in lifestyle and medicines), as well as with family support.
Complications of Aphasia
The ability to communicate and socialize with aphasia are very lacking, and this can be a complication in everyday life.
Aphasia will give rise to the following conditions that can affect social relationships with others as well as work .
- Decreased self-confidence
- Feelings of isolation
Aphasia makes sufferers have less communication skills so that this can trigger self-distrust, feelings of isolation, anxiety to depression.
Aphasia is not a preventable type of health disorder, but maintaining brain health is the main way to minimize the potential for aphasia to occur.
Minimizing the risk of factors that cause brain damage such as stroke is a step that can be taken, namely by having a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy lifestyles that are meant to be able to maintain brain health include :
- No smoking
- Keeping blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels normal
- Keeping weight on the ideal number
- Limiting alcohol consumption, so as not to overdo it.
- Exercise moderately and regularly.
- Get enough sleep or rest every day.
Aphasia cannot be prevented, but prevention for factors that cause aphasia can be done, namely by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular checking health.
Thank you very much for reading Aphasia Definition: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis, hopefully useful.
Medical Research & Source
- Anonim. 2017. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Aphasia.
- David Glenn Clark, MD, Mario F Mendez, MD, PhD & Janet L Wilterdink, MD. 2019. UpToDate. Aphasia: Prognosis and treatment.
- Donna C. Tippett, MPH, MA, John K. Niparko, MD, & Argye E. Hillis, MD, MA. 2014. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Aphasia: Current Concepts in Theory and Practice.
- Kitty Dumas. 2016. Baptist Health South Florida. Aphasia: A Disorder More Common Than You Realize.
- Juebin Huang , MD, PhD. 2019. Merck Manual. Aphasia.
- Cleveland Clinic medical professional. 2019. Cleveland Clinic. Aphasia.
- Anonim. 2018. National Health Service. Overview-Aphasia.