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At a Loss for Words: Aphasia

With a bachelor's degree in Anthropolgy, Lilith understands the undeniable importance of language in modern culture and society.

Aphasia: An Overview

The undeniable importance of language was not lost on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who stated: “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” Language is a cornerstone of culture. It is essential in communicating complex thoughts, ideas, intentions, motivations, and desires. It allows people to question their surroundings, understand what is being said to them, as well as ultimately read and write. Considering this, it would not be a stretch to assume that the ability to communicate is essential for survival in this modern world, where voice-activated technology, text-messages, and social networks comprise such a large part of society.

Well, what happens if suddenly an individual is robbed of the ability to understand language, both verbal and written? Sure, at times that person may know exactly what he wishes to say, but the words simply elude him. He hears what someone is saying to him, but comprehension remains impossible. This scope of problems is termed aphasia, which refers to damage to the language network of the brain, generally induced by stroke or traumatic brain injury.

The Disorder that Makes You Lose Your Words

Fast Facts

  • Aphasia is a disorder that stems from damage to certain parts of the brain in control of language, complicating an individual’s ability to understand conversation, read and comprehend written words, write words, and use numbers.
  • According to the National Aphasia Association, an estimated two million people in the United States, including children, have aphasia, with 180,000 individuals acquiring the disorder each year.
  • Two broad categories comprise aphasia: fluent and non-fluent.
  • Most individuals become better over time, especially if speech therapy is provided.
  • People who are bilingual can suffer aphasia in both languages.
at-a-loss-for-words-aphasia

Aphasia Defined

Defined as an acquired language disorder, meaning a person is no born with the illness, aphasia causes disturbances in the comprehension and expression of language due to brain injury, most commonly caused by a stroke. Aphasia increases the complexity of communication, but does not affect intelligence.

Types of Aphasia

The Last Word: Recovery

According to the National Aphasia Association, recovery is a slow process that relies heavily on speech therapy and the understanding of the individual with aphasia, as well as his family. Generally, if aphasia symptoms last longer than several months after a stroke or other cause of brain injury, a complete recovery is not expected.

Sources

Aphasia Facts: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/Documents/health/voice/FactSheetAphasia.pdf

Aphasia Facts: http://psychology.exeter.ac.uk/research/centres/ccnr/aphasia/media/facts/

Symptoms and Causes: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aphasia/symptoms-causes/syc-20369518

Types of Aphasia: https://www.aphasia.org/wp-content/themes/directorys-child/includes/images/types_of_aphasia.png

Types of Aphasia: https://www.aphasia.org/wp-content/themes/directorys-child/includes/images/types_of_aphasia.png

What to Know: https://www.medicalert.org/aphasia_awareness_month_what_you_should_know