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What is Aphasia?

Aphasia, sometimes called dysphasia, is a complex acquired neurological disorder which is caused by damage to the portions of the brain that are responsible for language. Someone with aphasia may have difficulty speaking, reading, writing, recognizing the names of objects, or understanding what other people say.

Aphasia most often affects adults who have suffered a stroke, but it can also result from a brain tumor, an infection, a head injury, or forms of dementia that cause brain damage. In young people, the most common cause of the disorder is head injury.

The Extent and Location of Brain Damage Influences the Type and Severity of Symptoms

Aphasia can be temporary or permanent and may result in partial or total loss of your ability to communicate with speech and/or using written words. The nature and severity of the symptoms depend on which part of the brain is damaged and how much damage is done.

About half of the people who show signs of aphasia have what's called temporary or transient aphasia, and they usually recover completely within a few days. Not as fortunate are the estimated one million Americans who suffer from some form of permanent aphasia.

10 Tips for Communicating With Someone Who Has Aphasia

  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Use common words, but try no to talk down to the person.
  • Stick to a single idea.
  • Use simple sentences.
  • Ask “yes” or “no” questions.
  • Give the person ample time to think and respond.
  • Commend any and all efforts to speak.
  • Do your best to understand made-up words.
  • Avoid speaking for the person unless it’s necessary.
  • Keep the person engaged and involved.