Aphasia

Aphasia facts*

*Aphasia facts medical author:

  • Aphasia, a disturbance in the formulation and comprehension of language, is due to damage to brain tissue areas responsible for language; aphasia may occur suddenly or develop over time, depending on the type and location of brain tissue damage.
  • Strokes are a common cause of aphasia.
  • Causes of aphasia are mainly due to strokes, severe head trauma, brain tumors, and brain infections; however, any brain tissue damage for whatever reason that occurs in the language centers of the brain may cause aphasia.
  • Two broad categories of aphasia are fluent and non-fluent (also termed Broca's aphasia), but there are subtypes of these categories.
  • Aphasia, especially a subtype, is diagnosed by tests given to people to determine the individual's ability to communicate and understand, using language skills; neurologists most frequently diagnose the type of aphasia.
  • Aphasia is mainly treated by speech and language therapy and therapy methods are based on the extent and locale of the brain damage.
  • Aphasia research is ongoing; studies include revealing underlying problems of brain tissue damage, the links between comprehension and expression, rehabilitation methods, drug therapy, speech therapy, and other ways to understand and treat aspects of aphasia.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a neurological disorder caused by damage to the portions of the brain that are responsible for language. Primary signs of the disorder include difficulty in expressing oneself when speaking, trouble understanding speech, and difficulty with reading and writing. Aphasia is not a disease, but a symptom of brain damage.

Who has aphasia?

Most commonly seen in adults who have suffered a stroke, aphasia can also result from a brain tumor, infection, head injury, or dementia that damages the brain. It is estimated that about 1 million people in the United States today suffer from aphasia. The type and severity of language dysfunction depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/19/2014

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Aphasia Symptoms

Difficulty with speech can be the result of problems with the brain or nerves that control the facial muscles, larynx, and vocal cords necessary for speech. Likewise, muscular diseases and conditions that affect the jaws, teeth, and mouth can impair speech.