Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Receptive Aphasia

(Wernicke Aphasia; Alexia; Alexic Anomia; Word Blindness; Text Blindness; Visual Aphasia)

Pronounced: Re-cepp-tiv Ah-fay-gee-ah

Definition

Receptive aphasia is a language disorder that involves difficulty understanding spoken or written language. This fact sheet focuses on alexic anomia. Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read and name words. It is caused by the brain not functioning correctly. This is a serious condition that may change over time, depending on the cause.

Stroke—Most Common Cause of Alexic Anomia
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Causes ^

Alexic anomia is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, for example:

Risk Factors ^

Alexic anomia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of alexic anomia include:

Symptoms ^

Symptoms include:

  • Inability to read with understanding
  • Ability to write, but not read what you have written

Diagnosis ^

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological examination and tests may also be done to check brain function.

Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:

You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nervous system.

Treatment ^

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

  • Speech-language therapy—to help you use your ability to communicate, regain lost abilities, learn to make up for language problems, and learn other methods to communicate
  • Counseling —to help you cope with your condition and help your family learn how to communicate with you
  • Individualized rehabilitation program—to focus on what caused your condition

Prevention ^

Since stroke is a common cause of aphasia, follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit salt and fat in your diet.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to successfully quit.
  • If you drink, do so in moderation. Moderation is 2 or less drinks per day for men and 1 or less drinks per day for women.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take low-dose aspirin.
  • Properly treat and control chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

If you have signs of a stroke, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

National Aphasia Association
http://www.aphasia.org

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Aphasia Institute
http://www.aphasia.ca

Brain Injury Association of Alberta
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Aphasia-Information-Page. Accessed February 16, 2018.

Cherny LR. Aphasia, alexia, and oral reading. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2004;11:22-36.

Freedman L, Selchen DH, et al. Posterior cortical dementia with alexia: neurobehavioural, MRI, and PET findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54;443-448.

Last reviewed February 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardRimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 4/30/2015