Aphasia is not a word we hear every day. More often than not, when I mention this term, it’s usually followed up with a look of confusion.
According to Mayo Clinic, “Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written.”
Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative). The severity of aphasia depends on a number of conditions, including the cause and the extent of the brain damage.
But why is it important to know what Aphasia is? Aphasia significantly impacts not only the individual living with aphasia, but also their loved ones. Complications with aphasia can include significant changes in conversation, word finding deficits, limited processing, or difficulty initiating/maintaining conversation.
Aphasia can cause the individual and their loved one to feel extremely lonely and isolated. When communication changes take place, it can feel like the whole relationship dynamic has changed.
Quality-of-life problems persist because communication is such a large part of daily life. Communication difficulty may affect:
· Day-to-day function
· Desire to socialize
Language barriers may lead to embarrassment, depression and relationship problems.
Aphasia can be HARD to live with. But there is hope and help out there. Speech therapists can provide communication tools to enhance communication, teach conversational coaching to help loved ones learn how to communicate more effectively, and improve overall quality of life for individuals living with Aphasia.
Communication can be impacted in all ages and stages of life. Speech therapy is out there for adults. If you or your loved one is living with Aphasia, look for therapists in your area (Check out www.asha.org/profind/ to find a therapist in your region!). More than likely, there will be someone to help rebuild any communication lost.