Language is the expression of human communication. It allows a person to express, experience, explain, and share knowledge, thoughts, observations, questions, needs, values, beliefs, and behaviors.
It is a specific method, style, or form of communicating for individuals or groups of individuals. Most language is vocal; however, it may also be expressed by symbols, as in letters and numbers, gestures, and sounds.
When language is impaired, problems can occur in all areas of a person's life, including social development; academic performance, personal relationships, employment opportunities, and self-sufficiency.
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Aphasia is a language disorder caused by damage in a specific area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension, and leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others.
Approximately 1 million people in the United States have aphasia, with about 80,000 cases diagnosed each year from stroke alone. Both genders are affected equally, and most people with aphasia are in middle to old age.
There are many types of aphasia, which are usually diagnosed by which area of the language-dominant side of the brain is affected and the extent of the damage.
People with Broca's aphasia, for example, have damage to the front portion of the language-dominant side of the brain. They may eliminate the articles "and" and "the" from their language, and speak in short, but meaningful, sentences. They usually can understand some speech of others.
Those with Wernicke's aphasia have damage to the side portion of the language-dominant part of the brain. They may speak in long confusing sentences, add unnecessary words, or create new words. They usually have difficulty understanding the speech of others.
Global aphasia is the result of damage to a large portion of the language-dominant side of the brain. People with global aphasia have difficulties with speaking or comprehending language.
Aphasia is caused by damage to the language-dominant side of the brain, usually the left side, and may be brought on by:
It is currently unknown if aphasia causes the complete loss of language structure, or if it causes difficulties in how language is accessed and used.
Confirmation of aphasia, extent of the disorder, and prediction for successful treatment may be assessed and confirmed by a set of comprehensive language tests conducted by a speech-language pathologist. These tests include studying speech, naming, repetition, comprehension, reading, and writing. Making a diagnosis may also include the use of imaging procedures, such as:
Specific treatment for aphasia will be determined by your doctor based on:
Other determining factors include the patient's:
The goal of treatment is to improve the patient's ability to communicate through methods that may include:
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