What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is a neurological disorder that results from damage to the brain, specifically the portions responsible for language. For most people, these parts of the brain are located on the left side of the brain. This disorder occurs suddenly, often as a result of a head injury of stroke. However, sometimes it may develop slowly, such as in the case of a brain tumor, infection or dementia. Aphasia impairs understanding of language, expression, reading and writing.
Although anyone may develop the disorder, most of the people who are diagnosed with aphasia are middle-aged or older. According to the National Aphasia Association, there are about 80,000 cases of aphasia each year, only from strokes. There are about one million people in the United States currently living with aphasia.
People with aphasia speak in short or incomplete sentences that do not make sense, use unrecognizable words, interpret figurative language literally, begin to make spelling errors and lose the ability to read and write. It is important to see a doctor when the person begins having trouble speaking or comprehending speech.
Aphasia is diagnosed through tests to measure language skills and comprehension. These tests assess the person’s ability to name common objects, engage in a conversation and understand and use words correctly, among others. A computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be performed to quickly identify what’s causing the aphasia. The treatment for aphasia is speech therapy.