Aphasia is a disorder that affects the ability to communicate. People with aphasia may have difficulty with the expression and/or understanding of language, as well as reading and writing. Aphasia can be classified into 2 broad categories.
Expressive aphasia—difficulty communicating thoughts through speech and writing
Receptive aphasia—problems understanding spoken or written language
Aphasia is caused by an injury to parts of the brain that are involved with language. The injury may be the result of:
Aphasia is more common in older people. Other factors that may increase your chance of aphasia include:
Family history of aphasia
Prior history of transient ischemic attacks (TIA)—sometimes referred to as mini-strokes
Aphasia is a symptom of an underlying problem. It may include:
Speaking in short, fragmented phrases
Putting words in the wrong order
Using incorrect grammar
Switching sounds or words
Speaking in nonsense
Problems understanding oral language:
Needing extra time to process language
Difficulty following very fast speech
Taking the literal meaning of a figure of speech
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If you have a brain condition, you may already be seeing a doctor who specializes in the nervous system. This doctor will most likely be able to recognize your aphasia. Some simple tests may be done. For example, you may be asked to follow commands, answer questions, name objects, and have a conversation. You may then be referred to a speech-language pathologist who will perform additional tests to assess your speech and language skills.
Imaging tests are used to evaluate the brain and other structures. These may include:
Aphasia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Aphasia. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Aphasia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/aphasia.aspx. Updated March 6, 2017. Accessed February 18, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 2/12/2016
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