Aphasia is a communication disorder.
It occurs when the language centres of the brain are damaged. It is one of the most common communication difficulties to affect the brain.
Every person is affected in different ways. Some people cannot speak at all or just have a few words. People can have difficulties understanding speech. Others can no longer read, write or use numbers in the same way as before.
Around 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia. Around a third of the people affected by a stroke have this communication difficulty. Head injury or tumours may also result in aphasia. Some people with a progressive neurological condition can experience these difficulties too.
Communication is so important to everything we do. As this is a hidden difficulty it is often misunderstood. Conversations and social activities can be difficult for everyone.
People with aphasia may find it difficult to:
- take part in a conversation
- talk in a group or noisy environment
- read a book, magazine or even a road sign
- understand or tell jokes
- follow the television or radio
- write a letter or fill in a form
- use the telephone
- use numbers and money
- say their own name or the names of their family
- express their immediate needs or ideas in words
Friends, family and other people may find it hard to:
- slow down
- resist finishing sentences
- adapt the way they communicate
- keep the conversation going
- understand what a person is saying
- know what to do
Aphasia can lead to
- problems with relationships
- lack of confidence
Damage to the right side of the brain may alter a person’s ability to express emotions, which can be misinterpreted as low mood or depression.
Recovery from communication impairment will be different for everyone. It can take time to rebuild confidence in socialising and how to make the most of your language skills.
Remember people can make progress even after many years. Keep going! One of our group made this motto for anyone with aphasia!
For more information :
The NHS has a good Introduction to Aphasia
Different Strokes help younger people reclaim their lives through active peer support and independent recovery.
The Stroke Association have some useful information on aphasia
Aphasia United is an international organisation for the global aphasia community.
The Aphasia Alliance is a coalition of key organisations from the UK.