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Cognitive Communication Disorders

What is a Cognitive Communication Disorder?

A cognitive communication disorder is a broad term that's used to describe a wide range of specific communication problems that can result from damage to regions of the brain that control your ability to think (cognition). This damage can impair your ability to transform thoughts into meaningful speech, writing, or gestures.

Symptoms of Cognitive Communication Disorders

Symptoms of cognitive communication disorders vary widely depending on the type and cause of the disorder. They can range from simple sound repetitions, such as stuttering, to occasional misarticulation of words and complete inability to use speech and language for communications (aphasia).

Types of Cognitive Communication Disorders

Speech and voice disorders may include:

  • Articulation Disorders - Difficulties with the way sounds are formed and assembled, often characterized by omitting, adding, substituting, or distorting sounds.
  • Voice Disorders - Characterized vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration which is inappropriate for an individual's age or gender, or both.

Language disorders may include:

  • Aphasia - Loss of speech and language abilities as a result of a stroke or some other form of damage to the brain.
  • Delayed Language - Slowness in the development of the language skills necessary for conveying and understanding thoughts and ideas.

Causes of Cognitive Communication Disorders

Causes of cognitive communication problems may include:

  • Strokes
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Aging
  • Tumors
  • Disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

Diagnosing Cognitive Communication Disorders

Cognitive communication disorders are diagnosed by doctors, neurologists, speech-language pathologists, and other health professionals. While different problems may require special diagnostic procedures, most diagnoses include any or all of the following:

  • Complete physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Detailed assessment and history of symptoms
  • Tests to measure speech and language skills
  • Diagnostic imaging (MRI and CT scans)

Treating Cognitive Communication Disorders

A health professional's choice of therapy is will be based on the type and severity of the disorder. If there is an underlying cause (a brain infection, for example), it often will be treated first. Various types of group or one-on-one speech and language therapy will follow.