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An Overview of Aphasia

What Are the Symptoms of Aphasia?

The main symptoms of aphasia include:

  • Trouble speaking
  • Struggling with finding the appropriate term or word
  • Using strange or inappropriate words in conversation

Some people with aphasia have problems understanding what others are saying. The problems occur particularly when the person is tired or in a crowded or loud environment. Aphasia does not affect thinking skills. But the person may have problems understanding written material and difficulties with handwriting. Some people have trouble using numbers or even doing simple calculations.

How Is Aphasia Diagnosed?

Usually, a doctor first diagnoses aphasia when treating a patient for a stroke, brain injury, or tumor. Using a series of neurological tests, the doctor may ask the person questions. The doctor may also issue specific commands and ask the person to name different items or objects. The results of these tests help the doctor determine if the person has aphasia. They also help determine the severity of the aphasia.

How Is Aphasia Treated?

Treatment for someone with aphasia depends on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Cause of brain injury
  • Type of aphasia
  • Position and size of the brain lesion

For instance, a person with aphasia may have a brain tumor that's affecting the language center of the brain. Surgery to treat the brain tumor may also improve the aphasia.

A person with aphasia who has had a stroke may benefit from sessions with a speech-language pathologist. The therapist will meet regularly with the person to increase his or her ability to speak and communicate. The therapist will also teach the person ways to communicate that don't involve speech. This will help the person compensate for language difficulties.

Here are some tips from the National Stroke Association for someone with aphasia:

  • Use props to help get the message across.
  • Draw words or pictures on paper when trying to communicate.
  • Speak slowly and stay calm when talking.

Carry a card to let strangers know you have aphasia and what aphasia means.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on July 24, 2012

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