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What is Aphasia and How is It Treated?

Although many people have never heard the term “aphasia,” it became more well-known when actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with the condition. Aphasia is a communication disorder that impacts one’s ability to speak and understand language. Aphasia can happen suddenly after a stroke or brain injury or develop slowly over time. According to the National Aphasia Association, about 1/3 of strokes result in aphasia, and at least 2 million Americans are suffering from the condition.1


How Aphasia Affects People After Stroke or Brain Injury

People with aphasia still know what they want to say and can make their own conditions. However, the ability to produce speech, comprehend speech, and the ability to read and write are affected.

  • Aphasia can range from mild to severe.

  • It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to recall the names of objects.

  • Usually, multiple aspects of communication are impaired.

  • There are different types of aphasia.


Types of Aphasia

There are several types of aphasia, each of which has different patterns of symptoms related to fluency (the ability to speak smoothly and easily), understanding (the ability to understand what others are saying or what they read), and repetition (the ability to repeat words, phrases or sentences). These types include:

  • Broca's aphasia

  • Wernicke aphasia

  • Transcortical aphasia

  • Conduction aphasia

  • Mixed aphasia

  • Global aphasia


Aphasia Symptoms

A person with aphasia may:

  • Speak in short or incomplete sentences

  • Speak in sentences that don't make sense

  • Substitute one word for another or one sound for another

  • Speak unrecognizable words

  • Have difficulty recalling words

  • Not understand what other people say

  • Not understand what they read

  • Write sentences that don't make sense


Speech-Language Pathology for Aphasia

If someone experiences a stroke or brain injury that results in aphasia, they may need intensive speech-language therapy as part of their recovery. Therapy is most effective when it begins soon after the stroke or injury.  Rehabilitation can help improve the ability to communicate, restore as much language as possible, teach how to make up for lost language skills, and help patients find other methods to communicate.


If you or a loved one has recently experienced a stroke, consider Florida Rehabilitation Hospital for stroke rehabilitation. Learn more about stroke rehab on our website. We are here to help! 

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