What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is a language disorder that happens as a result of brain damage. The brain has two halves. The areas that control speech and language are in the left side of the brain. Damage on the left side of the brain can result in language problems, damage to the right can create memory, attention, and information processing issues.
Aphasia may make it difficult for a person to understand what is said, speak, read or write. Aphasia is a result of the specific areas of a person’s brain not working properly, thus symptoms arise unless brain functioning is improved.
Signs and Symptoms of Aphasia:
The primary challenges associated with Aphasia have to do with understanding what is said and being able to say what you want, but can also impact reading and writing as well.
- Do not understand what others say, especially when speech is fast and with longer sentences.
- Find it hard to understand what others say when it is noisy or you are in a group.
- Have trouble understanding jokes or inferencing meaning.
- Can’t come up with want you want to say.
- Say made-up gibberish words instead of the real words you want to say.
- Easier time saying single words, difficulty with full sentences.
- Say the wrong word. Say “yes” instead of “no” or a word that just doesn’t make sense at all like “raindrop”.
- Switch sounds in words, say “mashing wachine” instead of “washing machine”.
- Put real words and made-up words together in sentences that don’t make sense.
Reading and Writing:
- Difficulty reading forms, books, and computer screens.
- Spelling and putting words together to form sentences.
- Using numbers or doing math. For example, telling time and making change can be difficult.
Are There Different Types of Aphasia?
Yes, there are two main types of Aphasia that occur with more frequency when a person suffers a stroke or damage to their brain. Three other types occur with less frequency. The type of Aphasia that results is a product of which area or areas of the brain have been injured. This is because different areas of the brain have different skills and abilities which they control. If the command center in the brain for a skill is not operating properly then that ability becomes impaired.
Broca’s Aphasia: Broca’s Aphasia can result when the frontal left region of the brain is impaired. This area is responsible for producing language, putting thoughts into words and sentences. This type is also known as expressive type, or non-fluent, aphasia because it impacts a person’s ability to express him or herself. An example of Broca’s Aphasia might be a person saying “two two book table” to mean “There are two books on the table.”
Signs and Symptoms of Broca’s Aphasia:
- Grammar difficulties
- Difficulty forming complete sentences
- Omitting smaller, non-content words, such as “the,” “an,” “and,” and “is”
- Word order simplifications; “Cup, me” instead of “I want the cup”
- More difficulty using verbs, better with nouns
- Speech sound errors and difficulty producing words
- May not be able to repeat what someone has said
- Difficulty reading and writing
- Difficulty with full comprehension of what is being said
- Difficulty following directions
- Display frustration
- Challenges made worse when stressed
Wernicke’s Aphasia: Wernicke’s Aphasia results from injury to the left brain area just behind the temple region of the head. This is known as receptive type of aphasia because it usually involves a person not being able to comprehend what is said to them. The person may speak in long sentences with proper rate and fluency of speech, but the sentences do not have meaning.
Sign and Symptoms of Wernicke’s Aphasia:
- String many words together that sound complex, but the sentences do not make sense
- Make up words that have no meaning
- Are unaware of the mistakes in their speech
- Speak easily and casually even though the content may not make sense
- Speech sounds sound fine, no errors in production
- May have difficulty repeating phrases
- May add words when trying to repeat someone
- Interrupt others when they are speaking
Global Aphasia: Global Aphasia impacts overall cognitive and communication abilities and is most commonly a result of a thrombotic stroke at the trunk of the middle cerebral artery thus impacting both Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas and the Arcuate Fasciculus that connects the two areas, of the brain on the left side. During a stroke, brain areas do not receive blood and oxygen and brain cells thus die causing injury to the area of the brain. This is the most severe type of stroke and is most commonly experienced right after a stroke. Both speech production and comprehension abilities are impacted as well as reading and writing.
Anomic Aphasia: This type is characterized primarily by the inability to find the correct word that the person is searching for when speaking. This is known as word finding problems and is the chief characteristic of Anomic Aphasia. Anomia is when the person is unable to recall the names of objects, people or places that the knew before they suffered a stroke. Also known as amnesic aphasia, the person seems to not remember things from their life. Many times the person is able to give a detailed description of the item but is not able to produce the word itself. Anomic Aphasia can be very frustrating for the person who suffers from it as they are seemingly always looking for the right word.
Conduction Aphasia: This type of Aphasia, which is rare, involves damage to the left parietal lobe and an area called the Arcuate Fasciculus. The Arcuate Fasciculus is a pathway in the brain that connects the lower and side-back part of the brain to the front part of the brain. Damage to this area can impair communication between these brain areas and thus cause symptoms of Conduction Aphasia. The symptoms include difficulty repeating words and phrases, especially as the phrases get longer. The person may be able to express himself fairly well with some word finding problems and may have an intact comprehension of what is said to him, but the inability to repeat what is said.
How Can Aphasia Be Diagnosed?
Traditional diagnosis of Aphasia involves a comprehensive exam by a highly-trained Speech Language Pathologist. In addition to this important type of assessment, qEEG Brain Mapping can identify which areas of the brain are not working properly, which is associated with the symptoms that a person struggles with. The brain directly impacts what happens to the person. Depending upon which area of the brain is injured, different communication challenges might arise.
How Can Brain-based Therapies Help Aphasia?
Aphasia starts in the brain and is most efficiently treated in the brain. With advances in technology and science, the brain patterns that are associated with the cause of a person’s aphasia can be assessed and visualized. Once the area(s) of the brain that are involved are identified and isolated, through qEEG Brain Mapping assessment, then state-of-the-art neurofeedback therapy improves the brain’s functioning in those impaired areas to improve symptoms. Science proves that the areas of the brain that are not working well can improve their functioning. In the accompanying picture, the red indicates underactivity of brain areas that improve after Neurofeedback Therapy.
Does Neurofeedback Help Aphasia?
Studies have been done that prove that Neurofeedback Therapy improves the injured areas of the brain and helps them to work better thus providing an improvement in skills and a reduction in symptoms. A recent study showed a reduction in all aphasia symptoms for a patient and an improvement in a categorization, concentration, visual perception, and regulation of effect. See our Science page for the details.
Leigh Brain and Spine is proud to have earned the distinction as a Certified Brain Health Coach Center and is a proud member of the Amen Clinics referral network.