Younger woman assists senior woman with understanding letters

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month

Actions speak louder than words. And each June during National Aphasia Awareness Month, truer words have never been spoken. This little-known language disorder is often as misunderstood as those who have it. To inspire a greater understanding of the common disorder, the month of June has been named National Aphasia Awareness Month. It’s a time when everyone is encouraged to recognize the condition and the millions of people affected whose voices deserve to be heard. Get started today by discovering what is aphasia, along with the different types like expressive aphasia, the sudden symptoms, and the treatments that can help people with aphasia recover their voices and their quality of life.

The silent spread of aphasia

Never heard of aphasia? You’re not alone. According to the National Aphasia Association, in 2020 when asked “what is aphasia”, 86% of people didn’t even know. This is despite the fact that more than one million people in the United States alone are living with the disorder, plus around 180,000 others are diagnosed every year. Sadly, it’s no surprise since the people who have it aren’t able to make their voices heard. So, what is aphasia? Simply put, it’s a language disorder that makes it difficult to speak, read, and write. Sometimes, it’s even hard to understand what others have to say.

Understanding the types of aphasia

Aphasia expresses itself in many different ways. There are actually several types of aphasia, which are based on a person’s levels of fluency, comprehension, and repetition. While there are many types of aphasia, the three most common include:

  1. Broca’s aphasia – A very common kind of non-fluent aphasia, Broca’s is also known as expressive aphasia. People with Broca’s aphasia find it very hard to speak and string together sentences of more than a few words. Their minds know what they want to say, but their mouths are unable to say it and their hands are unable to write it. As a result, people with Broca’s aphasia have a limited vocabulary, even though they can understand speech from others.
  2. Wernicke’s aphasia – Unlike expressive aphasia, speaking isn’t an issue with this form of fluent aphasia because words come out with ease. The problem is that these words just don’t make sense. Wernicke’s aphasia also affects reading and writing.
  3. Global aphasia – Another form of non-fluent aphasia, global aphasia is the most severe sort because people can’t speak many words and sometimes struggle to understand language.

Unspoken causes of aphasia

It’s important to understand that aphasia isn’t a disease. Instead, it’s the result of damage to the sections of the brain in charge of language. This damage can be caused by any of the following factors:

  • Stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Brain tumor
  • Progressive neurological disease, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Infection

Straight talk about aphasia symptoms

Aphasia expresses itself in many different ways, even though the people who have it often can’t. Since aphasia results from a sort of head injury, there are often several speech-related signs that a person may have it. If you notice any of these symptoms, tell your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor right away:

  • Speaking in short or incomplete sentences
  • Talking or writing in sentences that don’t make any sense
  • Using words you don’t recognize
  • Substituting one sound or word for another
  • Struggling to understand other conversations

What’s the word on aphasia treatment?

Aphasia doesn’t have the last word on speech, writing, and understanding because some people make a full recovery. After the brain is damaged, many changes occur in the brain that can actually help it recover. Some people with mild damage may even recover without any treatment. But most people with aphasia should start speech and language therapy very soon after the trauma to regain the ability to communicate. Treatment may be one-on-one with a therapist or as part of a group, but the family is usually involved to help with the recovery process. A computer can also be helpful in healing. Most therapies involve lessons in reading, writing, understanding, and repeating. They are designed to improve a person’s ability to communicate, as well as make up for any lost language skills, and restore as much language and understanding as possible.

This June during National Aphasia Awareness Month, use your voice to help those who can’t. Spread the word about National Aphasia Awareness Month on social media networks and throughout your social circle to raise awareness about aphasia, share ways to communicate with those who have it, and bring greater understanding to people who need it more than ever.