SEP 19, 2016 2:44 PM PDT

Aphasia: Clinically at a Loss for Words

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Imagine finding yourself suddenly unable to speak a coherent sentence, or understand what is being said to you. This is the reality for about a million Americans who suffer from aphasia - a speech communication disorder caused by damage to one or both language centers in the brain. In many instances, a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) or traumatic brain injury can lead to aphasia. In fact, about a third of stroke survivors suffer from aphasia.

Aphasia is divided into two classes: receptive aphasia and expressive aphasia. In receptive aphasia, people may use words that don't appear to have meaning. On the other hand, people with expressive aphasia can't seem to find the appropriate word to communicate what they're trying to say.

Watch the video to learn more about the possible treatments for aphasia. In addition, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends the following tips for better communication with a person with aphasia:

1. Get the person's attention before you start speaking.
2. Maintain eye contact and watch the person's body language and use of gesture.
3. Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
4. Keep your voice at a normal level. Do not speak loudly unless the person asks you to do so.
5. Keep communication simple, but adult. Don't "talk down" to the person with aphasia.
6. Simplify your sentence structure and emphasize key words.
7. Reduce your rate of speech.
8. Give the individual time to speak. Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.
9. Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing, and facial expressions in addition to speech.
10. Encourage the person to use drawings, gestures, and writing.
11. Use "yes" and "no" questions rather than open-ended questions.
12. Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors. Avoid insisting that that each word be produced perfectly.
13. Engage in normal activities whenever possible.
14. Encourage independence and avoid being overprotective.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 12, 2020
It's Not a Choice - Cats Need Meat
While you or I might have the freedom of deciding between a carnivorous diet or going all out vegetarian, not all a ...
MAY 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 12, 2020
Here's What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Outer Space
Many of the world’s greatest science fiction films depict massive battles in outer space between starships and eve ...
MAY 14, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 14, 2020
NASA's ICESat-2 Mission Reports Changes in Arctic Ice Thickness
Arctic sea ice is vital to Earth's climate system, and recent decades have seen troubling declines in sea ice due to ...
JUN 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
JUN 01, 2020
Sifaka Lemurs Endure Dangerous Ventures to Find Food
Sifaka lemurs exist in families of such large numbers, that even an entire cluster of massive trees isn’t fruitful ...
JUN 04, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JUN 04, 2020
COVID-19 Lockdown Leads to Decreases in Outdoor Air Pollution, but Increases in Indoor Air Pollution
With most of North America sheltering in place to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, it’s not surprising that ...
JUN 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JUN 08, 2020
Unlocking Deep Ocean Mysteries with eDNA
The ocean remains largely unexplored, and the ocean’s twilight zone is of key interest to researchers. Named for t ...
Loading Comments...