Aphasia, Bet You Never Heard of It

scrabble piecesAphasia, sometimes called dysphasia, is an acquired language disorder that affects 2 million people in the United States but most people have never heard of it. In fact, 84.5% of Americans are unaware of this condition. For a condition that afflicts so many people and with 80,000 new cases each year, there should be more common knowledge about it.

  1. The main cause of aphasia is stroke – 25-40% of stroke survivors get aphasia. It can also be from brain tumors, a head injury, or neurological conditions. Because of this, aphasia is often a sudden acquisition.
  2. Intelligence is not affected. Even though the person now has difficulty communicating, their intellect has not been damaged. Many aspects of communicating may have been impaired such as the ability to understand language and to express oneself but the core of creating ideas isn’t always affected.
  3. It can be pretty common for those with aphasia to have weakness or paralysis in the right arm and leg. Aphasia is often from damage on the left side of the brain which controls the right side of the body’s movement. Some people do, however, have aphasia without the physical effects.
  4. There are many types of aphasia. This includes global aphasia, Broca’s aphasia, and many more. This page outlines the different types. Depending on the location of the damage can cause a different type of aphasia to manifest.
  5. Recovery from aphasia is unique to each person. Sometimes recovery can be spontaneous but it is unlikely for someone to make a full recovery if it has been more than 3 months. With that said, people have found improvement over the years with therapy and effort. There is a belief that early therapy will produce better results but more studies are needed to prove this hypothesis.

Aphasia can be difficult to adjust to as it often comes with greater health complications but it’s important to work closely with your health management to ensure you’re on the best track for recovery.