How aphasia causes difficulty speaking

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain.

Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing.

Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders, such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.

Who can acquire aphasia?

Most people who have aphasia are middle-aged or older, but anyone can acquire it, including young children. About 1 million people in the United States currently have aphasia, and nearly 180,000 Americans acquire it each year, according to the National Aphasia Association.

What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Most often, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a leaking or burst vessel cuts off blood flow to part of the brain.

Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients.

Other causes of brain injury are severe blows to the head, brain tumors, gunshot wounds, brain infections, and progressive neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

How Aphasia Causes Difficulty Speaking

What types of aphasia are there?

There are two broad categories of aphasia: fluent and nonfluent, and there are several types within these groups.

Damage to the temporal lobe of the brain may result in Wernicke's aphasia (see figure), the most common type of fluent aphasia. People with Wernicke's aphasia may speak in long, complete sentences that have no meaning, adding unnecessary words and even creating made-up words.

What is Aphasia?

How Aphasia Causes Difficulty Speaking

Aphasia often arises as a result of damage to Broca's area or Wernicke's area.

Aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these are parts of the left side (hemisphere) of the brain.

Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often as the result of a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor. The disorder impairs both the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing.

Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.

Who has aphasia?

Anyone can acquire aphasia, but most people who have aphasia are in their middle to late years. Men and women are equally affected. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 individuals acquire aphasia each year. About one million persons in the United States currently have aphasia.

What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Many times, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when blood is unable to reach a part of the brain.

Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients.

Other causes of brain injury are severe blows to the head, brain tumors, brain infections, and other conditions of the brain.


Aphasia is when a person has difficulty with their language or speech. It's usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain (for example, after a stroke).

People with aphasia often have trouble with the 4 main ways people understand and use language.

These are:

  • reading
  • listening
  • speaking
  • typing or writing
  • Speaking problems are perhaps the most obvious, and people with aphasia may make mistakes with the words they use.
  • This could be sometimes using the wrong sounds in a word, choosing the wrong word, or putting words together incorrectly.
  • Although aphasia affects a person's ability to communicate, it doesn't affect their intelligence.
  • Aphasia can occur by itself or alongside other disorders, such as visual difficulties, mobility problems, limb weakness, and problems with memory or thinking skills.
  1. Aphasia is often classified as “expressive” or “receptive”, depending on whether there are difficulties with understanding or expressing language, or both.
  2. But most people with aphasia have some trouble with their speaking, and will have a mixture of problems with writing, reading and perhaps listening.
  3. Symptoms can range widely from getting a few words mixed up to having difficulty with all forms of communication.
  4. Some people are unaware that their speech makes no sense and get frustrated when others don't understand them.
  5. Read more about the different types of aphasia.

Aphasia is caused by damage to parts of the brain responsible for understanding and producing language.

Common causes include:

Aphasia can affect people of all ages, but it's most common in people over the age of 65. This is because strokes and progressive neurological conditions tend to affect older adults.

Aphasia is usually diagnosed after tests carried out by a clinician – either a speech and language therapist or a doctor. They can also help arrange treatment if necessary.

These tests often involve simple exercises, such as asking a person to name objects in the room, repeat words and sentences, and read and write.

The aim of these tests is to understand a person's ability to:

  • understand basic speech and grammar
  • express words, phrases and sentences
  • socially communicate – for example, hold a conversation or understand a joke
  • read and write letters, words and sentences

Imaging techniques such as a CT scan or MRI scan can be used to assess brain damage.

  • Speech and language therapy is the main type of treatment for people with aphasia.
  • This aims to help restore some of your ability to communicate, as well as help you develop alternative ways of communicating, if necessary.
  • You may receive speech and language therapy on an individual basis or in a group, depending on your needs and the service provided.
  • An increasing number of computer-based applications are available to support people with aphasia.
  • But it's important to start using these with the assistance of a speech and language therapist.

How successful treatment is differs from person to person. Most people with aphasia make some degree of recovery, and some recover fully.

An Overview of Aphasia

Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage or injury to language parts of the brain. It's more common in older adults, particularly those who have had a stroke.

Aphasia gets in the way of a person's ability to use or understand words. Aphasia does not impair the person's intelligence. People who have aphasia may have difficulty speaking and finding the “right” words to complete their thoughts. They may also have problems understanding conversation, reading and comprehending written words, writing words, and using numbers.

Aphasia is usually caused by a stroke or brain injury with damage to one or more parts of the brain that deal with language. According to the National Aphasia Association, about 25% to 40% of people who survive a stroke get aphasia.

Aphasia may also be caused by a brain tumor, brain infection, or dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. In some cases, aphasia is a symptom of epilepsy or other neurological disorder.

There are types of aphasia. Each type can cause impairment that varies from mild to severe. Common types of aphasia include the following:

  • Expressive aphasia (non-fluent): With expressive aphasia, the person knows what he or she wants to say, yet has difficulty communicating it to others. It doesn't matter whether the person is trying to say or write what he or she is trying to communicate.
  • Receptive aphasia (fluent): With receptive aphasia, the person can hear a voice or read the print, but may not understand the meaning of the message. Oftentimes, someone with receptive aphasia takes language literally. Their own speech may be disturbed because they do not understand their own language.
  • Anomic aphasia. With anomic aphasia, the person has word-finding difficulties. This is called anomia. Because of the difficulties, the person struggles to find the right words for speaking and writing.
  • Global aphasia. This is the most severe type of aphasia. It is often seen right after someone has a stroke. With global aphasia, the person has difficulty speaking and understanding words. In addition, the person is unable to read or write.
  • Primary progressive aphasia. Primary progressive aphasia is a rare disorder where people slowly lose their ability to talk, read, write, and comprehend what they hear in conversation over a period of time. With a stroke, aphasia may improve with proper therapy. There is no treatment to reverse primary progressive aphasia. People with primary progressive aphasia are able to communicate in ways other than speech. For instance, they might use gestures. And many benefit from a combination of speech therapy and medications.
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Aphasia may be mild or severe. With mild aphasia, the person may be able to converse, yet have trouble finding the right word or understanding complex conversations. Severe aphasia limits the person's ability to communicate. The person may say little and may not participate in or understand any conversation.

The main symptoms of aphasia include:

  • Trouble speaking
  • Struggling with finding the appropriate term or word
  • Using strange or inappropriate words in conversation

Some people with aphasia have problems understanding what others are saying. The problems occur particularly when the person is tired or in a crowded or loud environment. Aphasia does not affect thinking skills. But the person may have problems understanding written material and difficulties with handwriting. Some people have trouble using numbers or even doing simple calculations.

Usually, a doctor first diagnoses aphasia when treating a patient for a stroke, brain injury, or tumor. Using a series of neurological tests, the doctor may ask the person questions.

The doctor may also issue specific commands and ask the person to name different items or objects. The results of these tests help the doctor determine if the person has aphasia.

They also help determine the severity of the aphasia.

Treatment for someone with aphasia depends on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Cause of brain injury
  • Type of aphasia
  • Position and size of the brain lesion

For instance, a person with aphasia may have a brain tumor that's affecting the language center of the brain. Surgery to treat the brain tumor may also improve the aphasia.

A person with aphasia who has had a stroke may benefit from sessions with a speech-language pathologist. The therapist will meet regularly with the person to increase his or her ability to speak and communicate. The therapist will also teach the person ways to communicate that don't involve speech. This will help the person compensate for language difficulties.

Here are some tips from the National Stroke Association for someone with aphasia:

  • Use props to help get the message across.
  • Draw words or pictures on paper when trying to communicate.
  • Speak slowly and stay calm when talking.

Carry a card to let strangers know you have aphasia and what aphasia means.

SOURCES: American Stroke Association: “Aphasia vs. Apraxia.” National Stroke Association: “Aphasia.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders: “Aphasia.”

The National Aphasia Association: “Understanding Primary Progressive Aphasia.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Dysphasia vs. Aphasia: What’s the Difference?

Dysphasia is a condition that affects your ability to produce and understand spoken language. Dysphasia can also cause reading, writing, and gesturing impairments.

Dysphasia is often mistaken for other disorders. It’s sometimes confused with dysarthria, a speech disorder. It may also be confused with dysphagia, a swallowing disorder.

Dysphasia is a language disorder. It occurs when the areas of the brain responsible for turning thoughts into spoken language are damaged and can’t function properly. Consequently, people with dysphasia often have difficulty with verbal communication.

Dysphasia is caused by brain damage. Strokes are the most common cause of brain damage that leads to dysphasia. Other causes include infections, head injuries, and tumors.

Dysphasia occurs when the areas of the brain responsible for language production and comprehension are damaged or injured. This damage can be caused by a number of different medical conditions.

Strokes are the most common cause of dysphasia. During a stroke, a blockage or breakage in the blood vessels of the brain deprives the cells of blood, and consequently oxygen. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen for too long, they may die.

Some other common causes of dysphasia include:

Some causes of dysphasia, such as TIAs, migraines, and seizures, only result in temporary brain damage. Language abilities are restored once the attack is over.

While certain causes of dysphasia, such as head injuries, are unpredictable, others, such as strokes, have clear risk factors. These include:

Addressing these issues can lower your risk for stroke and, as a result, your risk for dysphasia.

Dysphasia and aphasia have the same causes and symptoms. Some sources suggest aphasia is more severe, and involves a complete loss of speech and comprehension abilities. Dysphasia, on the other hand, only involves moderate language impairments.

However, many health professionals and researchers use these terms interchangeably to refer to full and partial disruptions of language abilities. Aphasia is the preferred term in North America, while dysphasia may be more common in other parts of the world.

There are several different types and subtypes of dysphasia. Each type is associated with damage to a particular area of the brain. However, among those affected by dysphasia, distinctions are often less clear. Brain damage is rarely clear-cut.

Expressive types

Expressive dysphasia affects speech and language output. People who have expressive dysphasia have difficulty producing speech, though they may understand what’s said to them. They’re usually aware of their difficulties expressing themselves.

Broca’s dysphasia (also known as Broca’s aphasia)

Broca’s dysphasia is one of the most common types of dysphasia. It involves damage to a part of the brain known as Broca’s area. Broca’s area is responsible for speech production. People with Broca’s dysphasia have extreme difficulty forming words and sentences, and may speak with difficulty or not at all. They often understand what others say better than they speak.

Transcortical dysphasia (also known as transcortical aphasia)

Transcortical dysphasia is less common. Also known as isolation dysphasia, it affects the nerve fibers that carry information between the brain’s language centers, as well as other centers that integrate and process subtle aspects of communication. These include tone of voice, emotion, and facial expressions.

There are three types of transcortical dysphasia:

  • transcortical sensory dysphasia
  • transcortical motor dysphasia
  • mixed transcortical dysphasia

Receptive types

Receptive dysphasia affects language comprehension. People who have receptive dysphasia are often able to speak, but without meaning. They’re often unaware that others don’t understand them.

Wernicke’s dysphasia (also known as Wernicke’s aphasia)

Wernicke’s dysphasia involves damage to a part of the brain called Wernicke’s area. Wernicke’s area helps us to understand the meaning of words and language. People with Wernicke’s dysphasia may be able to speak fluently, but their use of nonsensical or irrelevant words and phrases can make what they say incomprehensible. They may also have difficulties understanding spoken language.

Anomic dysphasia (also known as anomic aphasia)

Anomic dysphasia is a milder type of dysphasia. People with anomic dysphasia have difficulties retrieving specific words, including names. When they can’t remember a word, they might pause, use gestures, or substitute a general word or roundabout description.

Conduction dysphasia (also known as conduction aphasia)

Conduction dysphasia is one of the rarest types of dysphasia. People with conduction dysphasia can understand and produce speech, but may have difficulty repeating it.

Global type

Global dysphasia (also called global aphasia) is caused by widespread damage to the brain’s language centers. People with global dysphasia have extreme difficulty expressing and understanding language.

People with dysphasia may experience difficulties using or comprehending speech. Symptoms depend on the location and severity of brain damage.

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Speaking symptoms include:

  • struggling to find words (anomia)
  • speaking slowly or with great difficulty
  • speaking in single words or short fragments
  • omitting small words, such as articles and prepositions (telegraphic speech)
  • making grammatical errors
  • mixing up word order
  • substituting words or sounds
  • using nonsensical words
  • speaking fluently but without meaning

Comprehension symptoms include:

  • struggling to understand speech
  • taking extra time to understand speech
  • giving incorrect answers to simple questions
  • having difficulty understanding complex grammar
  • having difficulty understanding fast speech
  • misinterpreting meaning (for instance, taking figurative language literally)
  • lacking awareness of errors

People with dysphasia may also have other difficulties, particularly with reading and writing.

Dysphasia often appears suddenly — for instance, following a head injury. When it appears without an obvious cause, it’s usually a sign of another condition, such as a stroke or a brain tumor. If you’re experiencing symptoms of dysphasia, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Your doctor might suggest some or all of the following tests:

  • a physical exam
  • a neurological exam
  • other tests of abilities such as reflexes, strength, and feeling
  • an imaging test, such as an MRI scan
  • a speech-language evaluation

Keep in mind that your doctor might use the term “aphasia” to refer to the symptoms.

In mild cases of dysphasia, language skills may be recovered without treatment. However, most of the time, speech and language therapy is used to redevelop language skills.

Speech and language therapists focus on helping individuals with dysphasia regain as much language as possible, while also helping them learn how to use compensation techniques and other modes of communication.

Although significant improvements can be made, restoring full communication abilities after brain damage has occurred isn’t always possible. Treatment is most effective when it occurs as soon as possible after the stroke or injury, so speak with your doctor about your symptoms as soon as they occur.

Aphasia FAQs – National Aphasia Association

En Español, Preguntas frecuentes sobre la afasia

What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence.

Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing.

  The diagnosis of aphasia does NOT imply a person has a mental illness or impairment in intelligence.

What Causes Aphasia?
The most common cause of aphasia is stroke (about 25-40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia). It can also result from head injury, brain tumor or other neurological causes.

How Common is Aphasia?
Aphasia affects about two million Americans and is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year. However, most people have never heard of it.

Who Acquires Aphasia?
While aphasia is most common among older people, it can occur in people of all ages, races, nationalities and gender.

Can a Person Have Aphasia Without Having a Physical Disability?
Yes, but many people with aphasia also have weakness or paralysis of their right leg and right arm. When a person acquires aphasia it is usually due to damage on the left side of the brain, which controls movements on the right side of the body.

Can People Who Have Aphasia Return to Their Jobs?
Sometimes. Since most jobs require speech and language skills, aphasia can make some types of work difficult. Individuals with mild or even moderate aphasia are sometimes able to work, but they may have to change jobs.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Aphasia?

Putting aphasia into words

“It’s on the tip of my tongue” is a phrase everyone has said time and time again. Sometimes it’s hard to find that word you’re looking for — whether it’s someone’s name, a common object or something else. But for people with a disorder called aphasia, it’s as if their brain’s word cabinet falls over and mixes all of their words around, resulting in varying levels and forms of language comprehension and expression impairment.

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, making this a perfect opportunity for you to learn more about the condition, its causes and how it’s treated.


A stroke and its subsequent brain damage is the most common cause of aphasia. A stroke results from the bursting or blockage of blood vessels supplying the brain. This creates a reduction of blood flow to the brain, which deprives the brain of essential nutrients and oxygen needed to support brain cell life.

Aphasia can also surface due to a brain tumor, infection or degenerative disease. There is always an underlying cause of aphasia and this determines the severity of language difficulties.

Temporary aphasia can appear during a migraine, seizure or transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke). Anyone who experiences a TIA is at an elevated risk for a full-blown stroke in the near future.


A person who is affected by aphasia may:

  • Use words or sentences that don’t make sense
  • Speak in brief or incomplete sentences
  • Experience difficulty understanding conversations
  • Have trouble writing coherent sentences

Seek medical help immediately if you or a loved one experiences these symptoms. A form of aphasia can be the first sign of stroke.


Aphasia presents itself in three different ways. Your health care provider may classify aphasia as:

  • Broca’s (nonfluent) aphasia. People with this form of aphasia speak in short sentences with missing words and have difficulty getting words out. Broca’s aphasia is often very frustrating for sufferers as most of them are aware of their communication difficulties.
  • Wernicke (fluent) aphasia. Fluent aphasia refers to individuals who communicate in long sentences that are hard to understand or contain incomprehensible, unneeded or incorrect words. Most people with fluent aphasia don’t realize they have a communication disorder.
  • Global aphasia. This is the most severe form of aphasia. It causes major comprehension and expression disabilities.


A common initial test from health care providers to determine the cause of aphasia is a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Aside from that, testing for aphasia usually involves exercises and observations to gauge your ability to:

  • Have a conversation
  • Follow directions
  • Repeat words and sentences
  • Explain a situation as depicted on paper
  • Read and write


Speech-language therapy is the most common form of treatment for aphasia, and this comes after the underlying cause of aphasia has been addressed. Early intervention and timely treatment is imperative for achieving maximum results.

A speech-language pathologist works with aphasic patients to regain as many previous language skills as possible or, with certain diseases and conditions, to maintain their current level of communication ability.

Patients commonly work in a hierarchical fashion, meaning that they start with simple exercises and work their way up. (i.e.

Speaking, reading or writing single words, then progressing to full sentences, then a paragraph and so on.)

In terms of coping, family and friends can make adjustments to simplify conversations and ensure comprehension. In turn, this keeps people with aphasia included and eases some apprehension they may have about communication. Those with aphasia may also choose to use images and gestures to help them communicate.

Additionally, there are stroke and aphasia support groups to aid in the healing and coping process.

Aphasia is a challenging communication disorder that creates many obstacles for patients and their families. Fortunately, raising awareness about the condition, its underlying causes and treatment options can help to reduce the effects aphasia has on many lives.

Sarah Krenik-Hoffman is a speech-language pathologist in Mankato, Minnesota.

Aphasia: Symptoms, diagnosis, and learning to communicate again

Aphasia is a language disorder that can affect a person’s use of language. It can impact their ability to speak, to understand, to read and to write, but not necessarily all of these. It often happens as the result of a stroke.

Aphasia can happen as a result of brain damage linked to Alzheimer’s disease or stroke. The challenges that the person will face depend on which parts of the brain are affected. Studies suggest that between 9 percent and 62 percent of people who have a stroke experience some degree of aphasia.

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In the past, aphasia referred only to a complete impairment of the person’s communication and language, while dysphasia was used to describe partial language impairment.

However, because there was confusion between dysphasia and dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, aphasia is now used for all degrees of impairment.

There are several kinds of aphasia.

Fluent aphasia or Wernicke’s aphasia: The person finds it difficult to understand the meaning of spoken words, but they can produce connected speech. However, the speech may be incoherent, with irrelevant words intruding. Reading and writing may be difficult.

Non-Fluent aphasia, or Broca’s aphasia: Speech production is often short, and described as halting and effortful. It is hard to access words, and formation of sounds may be difficult. Writing may be affected, but the ability to read and understand often remains intact.

Global aphasia: This affects all aspects of language. The person may be able to say a few recognizable, words but they cannot understand speech or read and write.

Anomic aphasia: The person may produce grammatically accurate language, but they have difficulty naming objects and words, so they may talk around the word as they try to explain themselves. Listening and reading may remain intact.

The person with aphasia will normally have noticeable difficulty with their use of speech and language. They may become frustrated at their inability to express themselves.

However, the type of difficulty will be different according to the type of aphasia they have.

Weakness or paralysis on one or both sides of the face or body can also make speech production or writing more difficult. The muscles used to breathe or swallow can be affected, and this has an impact on the production of sounds.

The part of the brain that controls speech and language recognition is referred to as the language center. These include Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Aphasia happens when there is damage to any of these parts of the brain or the neural pathways connecting them.

Share on PinterestDamage from stroke or Alzheimer’s can lead to aphasia.

  • Damage can result from:
  • The type of aphasia depends on which part of the brain is damaged.
  • Global aphasia happens when there is widespread damage right through the language center, fluent aphasia normally results from damage to the temporal lobe, or the side of brain, and non-fluent aphasia happens when there is damage to the frontal lobe, or the front of the brain.

As many people have aphasia after a stroke, a speech-language pathologist will conduct an evaluation to diagnosis aphasia soon after the event.

Some basic exercises that can help assess the patient’s language skills include:

  • Naming objects that begin with a certain letter
  • Reading or writing
  • Holding a conversation
  • Understanding directions and commands

The Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination test incorporates exercises that extensively evaluate the patient’s language skills.

A comprehensive diagnosis will also include a Computerized Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to determine the location and degree of brain damage that has caused the aphasia.

Speech and language therapy is the only treatment for aphasia. Most people do not regain full use of their communication skills, but speech therapy can bring about a significant improvement, even with global aphasia.

Speech therapy aims to achieve:

  • Better use of existing language abilities
  • Improving language skills by relearning them
  • Ability to communicate in a different way, making up for missing words in speech

As there are different levels of aphasia, and not everyone learns in the same way, speech and language therapy techniques will vary.

Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT)

This is mostly used to treat non-fluent aphasia. It involves the use of humming or singing in rhythm, known as melodic intonation, while repeating phrases and words the patient has been struggling with. This process stimulates brain activity in the right hemisphere. It can help to increase the number of words the patient can say.

Group therapy

A small group of people with aphasia meet with a therapist and communicate. This gives the patients a chance to practice and improve their language skills by interacting with a group of people in a comfortable and helpful environment.

Promoting Aphasic’s Communicative Effectiveness (PACE)

This is a kind of therapy that improves the patient’s communication skills by engaging them in conversation. The patient is shown a picture or a drawing and asked to respond in any way that they can. The level of conversation starts simply, but in time it will become more complex.

Computerized Script Training (CST)

3 Types of Aphasia That May Result From Stroke

Aphasia is an impairment of language which occurs when someone suffers from an injury to the language areas of the brain. The language areas of the brain span regions of the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the parietal lobe.

Language function is located on one hemisphere (half) of the brain, which is called the dominant hemisphere. Typically, the dominant hemisphere of the brain is on the side opposite the dominant hand.

Aphasia can occur as a result of any injury to the brain, such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury, a brain tumor, or an infection of the brain. Because of the way the blood vessels are arranged in the brain, the most common cause of aphasia is stroke.

Aphasia can affect language in many ways because there are several regions of the brain that control language. When one of the language regions is injured, but the other language regions remain healthy, some language function can be affected, while other language functions may remain intact.

For example, people with aphasia may have difficulty producing words, may have difficulty understanding language, or may have trouble with reading or writing.

There are a number of well-recognized aphasia syndromes that are characterized by certain patterns of speech and language that correspond to the areas of the brain-damaged by a stroke. The three most common types of aphasia are:

  • Broca's aphasia
  • Wernicke's aphasia
  • Global aphasia

Fifteen percent of people under age 65 who experience a stroke develop some form of aphasia, while nearly 45% of people over age 85 experience it.

This form of aphasia is named after the person who discovered the area of the brain that is responsible for generating speech. Broca's aphasia is at times called “motor aphasia” to emphasize that it is the production of language which is impaired, such as speaking, while other aspects of language are mostly preserved.

After a stroke, damage to Broca’s area results from the interruption of blood flow through the blood vessels that supply Broca's area, which is located in the dominant frontal lobe of the brain. Typically, Broca's aphasia prevents a person from forming intelligible words or sentences but has little or no effect on the ability to understand others when they speak.

If you have Broca's aphasia, you might feel frustrated because of your inability to transform your thoughts into words. Some stroke survivors with aphasia can say a few words which come out with a characteristic type of speech known as telegraphic speech.

Because some of the blood vessels that are affected in Broca’s aphasia also deliver blood to the areas of the brain that control movement of one side of the body (usually the right side), Broca’s aphasia is commonly accompanied by other impairments, including hemiparesis, or hemiplegia on the right side of the body, alexia, and agraphia.

Wernicke’s aphasia is named after the person who discovered the areas of the brain that are responsible for language comprehension located in the temporal lobe. People with Wernicke’s aphasia can’t understand others, or even themselves, when they speak.

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