Straight Talk: Aphasia and Communication
Aphasia is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. Brain damage, specifically to the left half of the brain, caused by injury or stroke is the main cause of this disorder. A person with Aphasia may have difficulty speaking, listening, reading, and writing, but the disorder doesn’t affect one’s intelligence. In other words, a person with Aphasia may have difficulty speaking the words, but they often know exactly what they’re trying to say.
Types of Aphasia
There are several different types of Aphasia, but the most prevalent three are Fluent Aphasia, Nonfluent Aphasia, and Primary Progressive Aphasia. Fluent Aphasia is when there is damage in the left posterior temporal area of the brain that causes a person to have trouble with comprehension while retaining the ability to speak clearly and cohesively.
Non-fluent Aphasia is when there is localized brain damage (on the left side of the brain), and affects a person’s ability to speak clearly while retaining the ability to comprehend what is being said to them. Both of these types are caused by injury or stroke.
Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a little different from Fluent and Nonfluent, because it is a deteriorating form of Aphasia, and is caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. When a person has PPA, their language and speech skills become slowly and progressively more impaired over time.
The inability to communicate effectively can cause feelings of extreme frustration for the people affected, as well as their families. These feelings of frustration can lead to bouts of anger and depression for those suffering. Family members, responsible for the care of the person with aphasia, may also experience complex emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and fear.
There is no cure for Aphasia, but there are treatments that help slow the progression and repair some of the damage. Dedicated time with a speech therapist is recommended for those suffering to help maintain a level of normalcy in their lives. Family members are encouraged to help them cope with Aphasia by doing things like communicating through touch, seeking counseling services, involving the person in decision-making as much as possible, and giving the person the time needed to talk.
Aphasia can be a taxing experience for everyone involved, but it is important for the well-being of the person suffering to stay patient, and confident in their ability to communicate. Although they have troubles expressing themselves verbally, they are still themselves and need the support of those around them to feel as normal as possible.
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