Aphasia is a communication disorder that is caused by damage to the brain. What is Aphasia and what causes it? The most common cause of aphasia is stroke, particularly in the elderly, but can also be the result of infections, brain tumors or head trauma.
Aphasia can be severe enough to affect the ability of the patient to produce or comprehend speech, making communication nearly impossible. Or it can be mild enough that the symptoms are difficult to identify.
Since Aphasia is caused by injury to the part of the brain that controls speech, and there are different levels of injury severity, the disorder presents itself in many ways. Some sufferers might lose the ability to recall the names of objects. Others might not be able to groups words into sentences, while others might lose the ability to read.
Typically, multiple aspects of communication are affected, while others are left available so the patient can communicate, even if on a limited basis.
Types of Aphasia
Like many disorders, the types of aphasia fall on a continuum from minor to severe.
Anomic aphasia falls at the lesser end, not preventing persons from communication. However, sufferers have difficulty finding the nouns and verbs they want, which makes them ramble and express frustration.
Somebody suffering from mixed non-fluent aphasia falls at the middle of the spectrum, speak minimally, comprehend minimally, and rarely read or write beyond an elementary level.
By far the most severe form of the disorder is Global aphasia. These patients understand little if any spoken language and utter only a few recognizable words. They cannot read or write. Global aphasia often occurs immediately after a stroke, and can improve if the brain damage was not too severe. However, in the worst cases, this form of aphasia can be permanent.
Researchers have studied Aphasia for more than a century, and have identified more forms of the disordered than are described above, even pinpointing the location of the brain injuries causing the variations. These advancements have helped patients cope with this debilitating condition.