What is Aphasia? - Definition, Types & Treatment

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Aphasia is the term for collective types of speech disorders that occur when parts of the brain are damaged. Learn about different types and treatment options in this lesson.

What is Aphasia?

When a person develops a speech impairment following a brain injury (but had no speech problems beforehand), this disorder is called aphasia. Damage usually occurs in the left half of the brain, which is the side responsible for speech, and is often due to stroke (though blunt trauma and brain diseases may cause similar symptoms).

Common symptoms of aphasia include difficulty reading, speaking, listening, and writing; however, there is no underlying change in a person's intelligence, making this a frustrating condition. Approximately one million people in the United States experience some form of aphasia.

Types of Aphasia

Symptoms vary based on what part of the brain experienced damage. For example, when the frontal lobe is harmed, speech becomes difficult and hard to follow. However, that person will still comprehend what other people are saying fairly well. In contrast, if damage was done to the back of the brain, speech delivery will be normal, but words may be mixed up or incorrectly used during delivery. Specifically, those who have trouble speaking may struggle grasping the words they want to use, misuse words, switch sounds around, make up their own words, or just have trouble putting words into the proper order within sentences.

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