Let’s Talk About Stroke & Aphasia

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. It’s most often caused by strokes that occur in areas of the brain that control speech and language.

What are the effects of aphasia?

Aphasia does not affect intelligence. Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or impossible to understand. Some survivors continue to have:

  • Trouble speaking, like “getting the words out”
  • Trouble finding words
  • Problems understanding what others say
  • Problems with reading, writing or math
  • Inability to process long words and infrequently used words

How does it feel to have aphasia? People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can’t speak as well or understand things the way they did before their stroke. They may act differently because of changes in their brain. Imagine looking at the headlines of the morning newspaper and not being able to recognize the words. Or think about trying to say “put the car in the garage” and it comes out “put the train in the house” or “widdle tee car ung sender plissen.” Thousands of alert, intelligent men and women are suddenly plunged into a world of jumbled communication because of aphasia.

Are there different types of aphasia?

Yes, there are several forms of aphasia. They include:

  • Global aphasia — People with this aphasia may be completely unable to speak, name objects, repeat phrases or follow commands.
  • Broca’s aphasia — The person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the right words (can’t get the words out).
  • Wernicke’s aphasia — A person with this aphasia can seldom understand what’s being said or control what they’re saying.

How can family and friends help?

The stroke survivor and their family members will need the help and support of a doctor, counsellor and speech pathologist. It’s a good idea for family and friends to:

• Be open about the problem so people can understand.

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