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  • What You Need to Know About Aphasia

    June 30, 2014
    By Margaret Schmidt aphasia, stroke, SLP

    Aphasia is a language disorder that affects nearly one-third of stroke victims. Aphasia occurs when there is damage to the communications hub in the left side of the brain. While aphasia disrupts communication skills, it does not affect a person’s thinking skills. It is critical to watch for signs and symptoms of aphasia following a stroke, and during Aphasia Awareness Month we want to remind people what to look for if a patient or loved one is at increased risk for the disorder.

    Stroke patients with aphasia may:

    • Use short or fragmented phrases
    • Put words in the incorrect order
    • Speak in single words
    • Speak with effort
    • Make up words
    • Have a hard time finding the right words
    • Omit small words like “the” and “of”
    • Confuse the sounds of words (e.g. by calling a tablecloth a “clabletoth”)

    Understanding aphasia and knowing how to work with aphasia patients is important to ensure best possible communication. There are many types of aphasia, but the most general categories are receptive and expressive aphasia. In cases of receptive aphasia, people can hear a voice or read print, but they may not understand the meaning of a message. In cases of expressive aphasia, people know what they want to say but have difficulty communicating it to others.

    Someone with receptive aphasia may:

    • Have difficulty comprehending what others say
    • Have difficulty with reading comprehension
    • Be unaware that they are using words incorrectly

    Someone with expressive aphasia may:

    • Be able to understand what others say
    • Have difficulty saying what they are thinking
    • Speak in a jumbled manner
    • Say a word different than the one they want to say
    • Have difficulty writing

    If any type of aphasia afflicts you, a loved one or a patient, the first step is to establish the patient’s communication preferences, which vary from person to person. Consider whether the patient would like extensive assistance with word finding or if he or she would prefer less aiding. If the patient uses the wrong word, does he or she want to be corrected? Appreciating the patient’s wishes will benefit both parties in communication.

    The American Stroke Association has developed a list of tips for communicating after stroke. Read them here. For additional clinical and treatment information about aphasia, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website.

     

    Cristhian Permalink
    September 09, 2014 9:09 AM

    I am 41 years old and last Thanksgiving I woke to find my left arm completely numb and ulnbae to move, my first thought was, I have had a stroke. My husband was at work and my kids were asleep and I found myself strangely calm but ulnbae to call for help. Slowly over 15 minutes or so I gradually regained feeling and seemed to return back to normal and dismissed it as my arm fell asleep. Since that time I have felt very dizzy, increased headaches, pins and needles on my left side, arms and legs, intermittent heaviness and numbness on my left side of my face as well as episodes of amnesia. I also developed galactorrhea (and I'm not pregnant or nursing). So my primary care doctor ordered an MRI to rule out a pituitary tumor, which showed numerous scattered hyperintensities and referred me to a neurologist. Prior to seeing a neurologist, I woke up at 4 am with crushing chest pain followed by intermittent fluttering in my chest, which my husband heard, (he is an ER doc) so he got me in with a cardiologist ASAP. They performed a stress ECHO which revealed a significant PFO. The cardiologist explained that Trans Global Amnesia is a very common symptom in people with PFO. I felt relieved that there seemed to be an answer .then,I followed up with a neurologist, who went off on me saying that she didn't get paid much for talking to me and that the cardiologist only spends 5 minutes with me, inserts a device and makes thousands, that 25% of the population have PFO's and that chronic migraines can cause amnesia, numbness and auras. To me I don't care if my symptoms were TIA or migraine related, it seems there is substantial evidence that both TIA and migraine can be attributed to PFO. Splitting hairs over what it was seems pointless.I also mentioned to her that I felt better when the barometric pressure was high or when I traveled to sea level, I live at approximately 4800 ft above sea level. She asked in a skeptical voice so you feel better when its sunny? When I tried to describe feeling like I was going to lose consciousness as somewhat out-of-body feeling , she asked me if I had seen a psychiatrist for that.Can anyone relate to my symptoms or experience? I am also a runner with a resting pulse 55-65 bpm, low blood pressure 100/70, 90/60.The PFO relation seems logical to me so despite the grumpy neurologists opinion I am going to close it May 4th.Thanks-AmySLC, UT

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