What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a loss of language, not a loss of intellect. Aphasia can be characterized as a loss of being able to produce and understand verbal and written language.  Many people do not understand why those living with aphasia have trouble producing or understanding language.

To clarify, our brains process the sounds we hear in conversation with other people, between characters in a TV show, or from an announcement on a speaker and translate them into meaningful words. Someone with aphasia may have damage to their brain in the area responsible for comprehending speech (Wernicke’s area). In contrast, other people with aphasia may have damage to the brain in the area responsible for producing speech (Broca’s area).

Depending on where damage occurs to the brain, a person with aphasia may have difficulty with one or more aspects of language.


Aphasia is typically caused by damage to the language centers of the brain, which are primarily located in the left hemisphere. The most common causes of aphasia include:


  1. Stroke: When a stroke occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain, it can disrupt blood flow and damage brain tissue, leading to aphasia.
  2. Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A severe blow or jolt to the head can cause damage to the brain, resulting in aphasia. TBIs can occur due to accidents, falls, or other traumatic events.
  3. Brain tumors: Tumors in the brain, particularly those located in or near the language centers, can interfere with language function and lead to aphasia.
  4. Neurodegenerative diseases: Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and primary progressive aphasia (PPA) can cause progressive damage to the brain and result in aphasia symptoms over time.


Depending on the cause and severity of aphasia, individuals with the condition may partially or fully recover over time, particularly with the help of cognitive therapy. However, aphasia can also be a permanent condition.

Symptoms of Aphasia

The symptoms of aphasia vary depending on the location and severity of the brain condition. Some common symptoms include:


  1. Difficulty with verbal recall: Individuals with aphasia may struggle to recall specific words or names while speaking, leading to frequent pauses or substitutions in their speech.
  2. Impaired comprehension: Understanding spoken or written language can be challenging for people with aphasia. They may have difficulty following conversations, comprehending written text, or responding during conversations.
  3. Difficulty speaking fluently: Aphasia can cause disruptions in the flow of speech, resulting in hesitant or fragmented language.
  4. Difficulty reading and writing: Reading comprehension and writing ability may be impaired in individuals with aphasia. They may struggle to recognize words, sentences, or letters, and their writing may be disorganized or contain errors.
  5. Social and emotional challenges: Aphasia can have a significant impact on social interactions and emotional well-being. Individuals may feel frustrated, isolated, or misunderstood. This can potentially lead to anxiety or depression.

What can be done for aphasia patients?

People with aphasia often work with a speech-language pathologist to rehabilitate their language skills. In therapy, a speech therapist may work with their client on recognizing letters and what sounds they make, words and their meanings, and how to put together sentences that make sense. In addition, individuals may attend a support group to practice conversing with other people and understanding language. Depending on what caused a person to have aphasia, a person may recover fully, partially, or not at all. Someone may have difficulty using or understanding some words or a category of words, while others may have no trouble at all. Over time, as long as someone is receiving speech therapy and performing activities that challenge them to use language, they should see some improvement as time goes on.

Cognitive rehabilitation for aphasia
can target the following cognitive skills

The ability to enable goal-oriented behavior, cognitive flexibility, and emotional regulation.

Skill to be able to translate sounds into words and generate verbal output.

The ability to focus on tasks and details in order to complete and use them.

The ability to hear, process, blend, segment, and use sounds to shape behavior.


Enables you to perform tasks quickly and accurately.

Ability to process incoming visual stimuli, understand spatial relationships between objects, and visualize images and scenarios.

Work on the ability to process, encode, store, and retrieve visual information.

The ability to remember something written or spoken that was previously learned.

Enables you to store and retrieve of information needed to plan a route to a desire location.

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