Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage or injury to the brain. A person with aphasia may have trouble understanding, speaking, reading, or writing.
Aphasia can be caused by strokes, head trauma, tumors and other neurological conditions such as dementia. Research shows that between 25% - 40% of people who survive a stroke acquire aphasia.
People affected by aphasia should commence Speech Therapy as soon as possible.
Aphasia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of brain damage. It is characterized by a gradual loss in speech and language functioning while other cognitive domains remain mostly preserved, such as memory and personality.
Aphasia disrupts relationships and everyday living making it a very frustrating and isolating disorder. Recovery is invariably slow; the brain needs time to form new networks and heal. Persistence, therapy, and loving understanding is needed for improvement.
Receptive Aphasia - The ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words and sentences is impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not very affected. People may mix up words or make a sentence with a series of words that don't make sense.
Non-Fluent or Expressive Aphasia - Partial loss of the ability to produce language (spoken, manual, or written), although comprehension generally remains intact.
Anomic Aphasia - Mildest of the aphasias, with relatively preserved speech and comprehension but difficulty in word finding. People cannot express the words they want to say (particularly nouns and verbs).
Global Aphasia - Considered the most severe type of Aphasia. People have difficulty speaking and understanding and cannot read or write. They may be able to say and understand a few words at a time.
Primary Progressive Aphasia - Language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired due to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease. People with primary progressive aphasia eventually lose the ability to speak and write, and to understand written and spoken language. Communication at this stage will require the use of gestures, smiles and the observation of body language.
Staff education on the various forms of Aphasia and relevant communication strategies is imperative. The goal for staff is to provide clients with a means by which to express themselves. Apart from patience and compassion, staff should:
Activity Professionals may engage clients in a Life Participation Program while they adjust to their disability. The Life Participation approach refers to a general model of care delivery, rather than a specific clinical approach. Notwithstanding, seek advice from a speech/language pathologist if at all possible.
READ THE NEWSPAPER - Take the newspaper to the client and ask him to locate the sports page, or check the forecast for the day. Ask clients questions that require Yes/No answers, like:
LOOK AT PHOTO ALBUMS - This activity is suitable for clients with dementia as well as aphasia. Looking at photographs together may soothe the soul. Ask questions with Yes/No answers.
USE APHASIA CARDS - Cards can be bought from an Aphasia Association in your country or you can make your own. Attached to this article are 3 activities you can ue:
PLAY BOARD GAMES - Some clients may be able to play boardgames or word games. Suitable games could include Chess, Scrabble, Family Feud and Sentence Puzzles.
BRAIN EXERCISES - Brain exercises may help improve word-finding abilities.
NOTE: The supplied sample activities for Aphasia should be provided one-on-one; provide assistance as required. Be aware that clients with Aphasia tire easily; observe body language and ask if they want to stop and continue at a later date.