A while back, actor Bruce Willis announced that he was “taking a step back” in his career after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder caused by damage to the brain regions involved in understanding and expressing language. Rumer Willis, the daughter of Willis and Demi Moore, revealed in an Instagram post that her father’s diagnosis “is affecting his cognitive abilities. »
Aphasia can make it hard to write, speak, and understand language. Most of the time, aphasia occurs suddenly after a stroke or brain injury. Sometimes it can also develop over time as a result of a slow-growing brain tumor. The signs and symptoms of aphasia can vary depending on the part of the brain that is damaged and the extent of the damage. Aphasia can affect expressive language, that is, the ease with which a person can put words and sentences together to communicate orally or in writing, and receptive language, that is, the ease with which a person understands what they hear or read.
types of aphasia
There are several types of aphasia, depending on the part of the brain affected. Here are some:
This form of aphasia is also called Broca’s aphasia, in which the left frontal area of the brain is affected. Speech is severely affected in people with nonfluent aphasia, often limited to brief utterances of less than four words. Vocabulary is limited and patients have to make great efforts to form sounds. People with Broca’s aphasia can often understand speech and read well, but their writing and speaking skills can be severely affected.
People with fluent aphasia tend to speak easily and fluently in long, complex sentences, but these sentences do not make sense or include unrecognizable or incorrect words. This condition, also called Wernicke’s aphasia, deprives people of their ability to fully understand spoken language and they are unaware that others cannot understand them. Wernicke’s aphasia is caused by damage to the left middle side of the brain.
This is the most severe form of aphasia, in which affected individuals may speak only a few unrecognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. The ability to read and write has disappeared. People with global aphasia have significant brain damage, usually due to a stroke.
Mixed nonfluent aphasia
This condition resembles Broca’s aphasia, in which patients have limited language. But unlike Broca’s aphasia, these patients also have difficulty understanding speech, as well as reading and writing.
This form of aphasia occurs when people can’t find the words for things they want to talk or write about, especially meaningful nouns and verbs. Their speech is fluent and grammatically correct, but they speak with vague expressions. They understand speech quite well and, in most cases, can read.
Symptoms of Aphasia
Aphasia is a sign of an underlying disease, such as a stroke.
The symptoms of aphasia are:
– Speak in short or incomplete sentences
– speak in a way that does not make sense or say unrecognizable words
– Substitute one word or sound for another
– not understanding what others say
– write words or sentences that do not make sense.
Main causes of aphasia
Aphasia frequently occurs after brain injury and more commonly after a stroke. A stroke is caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or by bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Blood loss in one area of the brain can lead to damage or death of brain cells in the areas that control language. Other less common causes may be at the root of this condition, including a brain tumor or progressive neurological disease.
Migraine can cause transient aphasia, usually during the aura phase of a migraine attack, preceding or overlapping with the headache phase.
Treatment usually focuses on improving language and communication skills. Patients can work with a speech therapist on exercises to improve reading, speaking, writing, and comprehension. If unsuccessful, patients can also learn to communicate through other methods, such as pointing to word or picture cards, using smartphone apps to facilitate communication or generate speech, or using other types of assistive technology.
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