It’s not easy to imagine a life in which you can’t talk. Losing the ability to communicate with the outside world is a misfortune. Unfortunately, there are people out there who have lost their ability to communicate and are living with a particular condition. This state is called aphasia. They can’t convey even the most straightforward message, even if they want to. The bright side for them is that there is a way that they can get better with the right treatment.
What Is Aphasia?
Aphasia is not well understood by the general public. Many people believe that it is a condition with similar symptoms to those of people who have Alzheimer’s. This speech impairment is something entirely different.
Unlike people with Alzheimer’s, those that have aphasia are able to think straight but remain unable to express themselves through speech. Their mind has full functionality. People who have aphasia can follow a conversation and explain their thoughts but not in a traditional manner. Basically, aphasia is a condition that renders an individual unable to speak, read, and/or write.
For people living with this condition, each day is like a type of prison. They are communicating only inside of their head, without the ability to express thoughts. Their quality of life diminishes because of this, as they can’t interact with others like they used to. The most significant consequence of aphasia is that there will be a personality change in people who have it. They feel like they are being cut off from others, and people who are social will feel the consequences of this.
Types of Aphasia
The first type of aphasia is agrammatic aphasia. This type renders the patient unable to form full sentences. They can only speak in fragments. Only parts of what they intend to say ever leave their mouth.
Logopenic aphasia patients struggle with a particular word. They always seem to have it on the tip of their tongue without ever pronouncing it.
People who have semantic aphasia can form full sentences. Their issues are with understanding others when talking. Also in most cases, their sentences might be complete but are often deprived of meaning and are hard to understand.
The last type is the one which includes parts of all three above. Primary progressive aphasia will completely take a person’s ability to use language. Aphasia by itself is a degenerative disease, and with time, its symptoms will only worsen. When the condition first appears, patients will still be able to use language but just for short periods of time during the day. Eventually, they will lose it altogether.
Causes of Aphasia
In most cases, brain damage is the cause of aphasia. It can be a consequence of dementia, stroke, tumor, or head injury. In some cases, it is from an infection. A third of all people who have a stroke will have to deal with aphasia. In the United States alone, 800,000 people have a stroke each year. Sometimes aphasia is due to migraines or seizures, and in these cases, it can go away. In the other causes mentioned, it is permanent. At least at this point, there isn’t a cure available.
Treatment and Prognosis
Most people believe that aphasia can’t be treated, but they are wrong. Speech therapy is one solution. Aphasia can’t be stopped or reversed, but patients can be taught how to better deal with their condition. While they will gradually suffer more and more from this condition, there are things they can learn to communicate better and for more extended periods of time.
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