Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language (typically in the left half of the brain). Individuals who experience damage to the right side of the brain may have additional difficulties beyond speech and language issues. Aphasia may cause difficulties in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, but does not affect intelligence. Individuals with aphasia may also have other problems, such as dysarthria, apraxia, or swallowing problems.
Any disease or damage to the parts of the brain that control language can cause aphasia. These include brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and progressive neurological disorders.
The specific symptoms and severity of aphasia vary depending on the location and extent of brain damage. All individuals with aphasia may have one or more of the following problems with general difficulties in:
- Experience difficulty coming up with the words they want to say
- Substitute the intended word with another word that may be related in meaning to the target (e.g., "chicken" for "fish") or unrelated (e.g., "radio" for "ball")
- Switch sounds within words (e.g., "wish dasher" for "dishwasher")
- Use made-up words (e.g., "frigilin" for "hamburger")
- Have difficulty putting words together to form sentences
- String together made-up words and real words fluently but without making sense
- Misunderstand what others say, especially when they speak fast (e.g., radio or television news) or in long sentences
- Find it hard to understand speech in background noise or in group situations
- Misinterpret jokes and take the literal meaning of figurative speech (e.g., "it's raining cats and dogs")
reading and writing
- Difficulty reading forms, pamphlets, books, and other written material
- Problems spelling and putting words together to write sentences
- Difficulty understanding number concepts (e.g., telling time, counting money, adding/subtracting)
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Answers to common questions about Aphasia.