Skip to main content
Home » Stroke Awareness » Understanding the Varied Symptoms of Aphasia
Stroke Awareness

Understanding the Varied Symptoms of Aphasia

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder in adults primarily caused by stroke. All people with aphasia have some difficulty retrieving words, but impairments with comprehending spoken language and/or reading or writing can also be present.

Despite language difficulties, intellect and memories are retained. For example, if a person has difficulty saying a family member’s name, it does not mean they do not know who that person is. Likewise, people still remember where the grocery store is, though they may have difficulty saying its name. Bilingual or multilingual aphasia can occur in people who used two or more languages before the stroke.

Varied symptoms

The symptoms of aphasia can be quite different from person to person, and some people may have additional consequences of stroke, such as speech issues (e.g., slurred speech), right side paralysis/weakness, swallowing difficulties, etc.

People with aphasia may experience depression and social isolation. It is important to mention this to doctors and other healthcare professionals. It is also normal for a person’s language abilities to fluctuate from day-to-day or throughout the day, depending on fatigue and other factors.

The road to recovery

While the greatest amount of improvement in language recovery is generally observed within 6 to 12 months of the stroke, people can and do continue to improve well beyond the first year post-stroke and can benefit from aphasia services throughout their lives.

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can provide support as a person’s language abilities, goals and life situations change. Options include individualized or group therapy, support groups for the person with aphasia and/or family, book clubs, aphasia centers, family education and more.

Technology may also be helpful for people with aphasia (e.g., text-to-speech technology, audiobooks). However, technology may need to be personalized to the person with aphasia for optimal effectiveness. An SLP can help with that. Similarly, computerized language treatments should be supported by research and ideally used within a larger rehabilitation context.

There are many excellent online resources that provide information about aphasia, including videos of testimonials, explanations of treatments options, locations of support groups and aphasia centers and additional educational and supportive resources.

Next article