The different types of aphasia almost always occur after a stroke. It afflicts about one-third of the 750,000 people that suffer strokes each year in the USA alone.
This neurological disorder is caused by brain damage that affects some of the areas of the brain that control language. It can cause issues with a person’s ability to listen, read, write, or speak and understand speech.
With around 1 million Americans desperate to treat aphasia, it’s worth learning more about. Below, we describe the different types of this disabling condition.
Fluent, or Wernicke’s aphasia, occurs when a person damages the middle left part of their brain. This area, known as the Wernicke’s area after the neurologist who discovered it, controls human language.
People with fluent aphasia have trouble understanding what others say to them. They can speak, but sometimes words come out jumbled, or their sentences are unnecessarily long and complex or meaningless to the listener.
Wernicke’s aphasia sufferers don’t realize that other people can’t understand them, leaving them feeling confused in social situations.
Broca’s aphasia, also known as non-fluent aphasia, results from damage to the front of the left side of a patient’s brain.
People with this condition tend to:
- speak in short sentences (as few as four words)
- not complete their sentences
- have trouble understanding what others say
- suffer from some level of paralysis
Patients with Broca’s aphasia are aware of their limitations, so they get frustrated easily, affecting their mental health. The condition was first identified in 1861 by French scientist Paul Broca, who it’s now named after.
In most cases, people who suffer from conduction aphasia have trouble repeating words and phrases when spoken to them. However, they generally have no problem understanding what has been said. They can also typically read and write with little to no difficulty.
Conduction aphasia, also known as associative aphasia, is considered a mild form of aphasia. In this case, the signs of aphasia can be effectively managed using writing strategies. For example, someone might write down words that they hear instead of trying to repeat them verbally.
Global aphasia is the most severe form of aphasia. These aphasia symptoms include immense difficulty using and understanding words and an inability to string two or more words together. This is because the back left and front brain–the language processing areas–are severely damaged.
Thankfully, global aphasia is rare, though the people who suffer from it face potentially lifelong and intensive treatment regimes and mounting medical costs. You can help by donating to a charity in your area. The Asphasia Charity Appeal, for example, fundraises money to provide better rehabilitation options for patients with aphasia in the UK.
Support for Different Types of Aphasia
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any of the different types of aphasia, know that you’re not alone. There is a wide range of treatments available today, and with help, you can manage the condition. Consider joining one of the many societies and support groups set up for sufferers and their families.
For more informative descriptions of common human afflictions, browse the other articles in our Health section.