Aphasia is an “impairment of language”. It affects the ability to read or write and comprehension or production of speech.
Generally, aphasia is caused by the injury to the brain such as a stroke, especially in older individuals. However, it can also be caused by brain tumors, head trauma, or infections.
Aphasia can be severe or very mild. In severe condition, communication with the patient can almost become impossible. Various people are affected by this condition in a different manner. In some cases, it affects a single aspect of language use while in others multiple aspects of communication are impaired. Various abilities can be affected such as reading, putting words together into a sentence and retrieving the names of objects. For treatment, the professional determines the ability of an individual for the comprehension of language.
Types of Aphasia
The studies related to aphasia show that the specific components of language can be particularly damaged in some individuals. Different patterns or types of aphasia are found which corresponds to the location of the brain injury in an individual case. Some types of aphasia are the following:
Global Aphasia is the most severe form of aphasia. During this condition, the patients can produce a few words (recognizable). They usually understand very little or in some cases no spoken languages. These people are unable to write or read. Global Aphasia can also occur in a mild form. During the mild forms of aphasia, people can have fully preserved cognitive and intellectual capabilities which are not related to speech and language.
Global Aphasia can be caused by injuries of the brain on the language-processing areas of the brain. The language-processing areas of the brain include Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. These areas of the brain are important for producing words and sentences, understanding the spoken language, understanding vocabulary and using the grammar.
Broca’s area is present in the frontal lobe of the hemisphere (usually at the left of the brain). It mainly functions to produce speech. Wernicke’s area is another important area of the brain which is important for the development of language. This area is located on the left side of the brain within the temporal lobe. This area of the brain is important for the comprehension of speech.
In many cases, it is seen that global aphasia occurred immediately after the patient had a brain trauma or a stroke. If the damage during brain trauma or a stroke is not too extensive, then the Symptoms may rapidly disappear in the first few months after the trauma or stroke. However, extensive and severe brain damage can cause severe and long-lasting disability.
The diagnosis of global Aphasia is important, and the patient should seek language and speech therapy soon after the diagnosis of global Aphasia.
Broca’s aphasia is also known as expressive or non-fluent aphasia. During Broca’s aphasia, people have a relatively preserved comprehension and have trouble speaking fluently.
During this condition, the speech of patients is limited, and they have difficulty in producing the grammatical sentences. The patients can mainly utter less than four words fluently. The Production of the right words or right sounds is a laborious process. Some patients find it more difficult to use the verbs than the nouns.
During Broca’s aphasia, the patient can understand the speech having a simple grammatical structure of the spoken language while it is difficult for them to understand the sentences having a complex grammatical construct. These patients can read more as compared to writing. For the first time, French scientist Paul Broca related this type of aphasia to localized brain damage. During his study, he was caring for a patient who could only say a single word “tan”. Broca’s aphasia was named after his name.
This type of aphasia usually occurs due to the injury of language and speech areas of the brain. Such injuries usually occur because of stroke or brain trauma.
Mixed Non-fluent Aphasia
Mixed non-fluent aphasia resembles the severe condition of Broca’s aphasia. During mixed non-fluent aphasia, a person has an effortful speech. However, Broca’s aphasia is different from mixed non-fluent aphasia patients because they remain limited in their speech comprehension just like the people of Wernicke’s aphasia. The people suffering from mixed non-fluent aphasia do not write or read beyond an elementary level.
It is one of the milder forms of aphasia. During this condition, the people have a persistent inability to supply the words for the small talks they want to do specifically, the significant verbs and nouns. The speech of such people is fluent and grammatically correct but is full of circumlocutions and vague words. During this condition, people usually have lots of expressions of frustration and have difficulty in finding words during writing and speech as well. These people usually understand speech well and can read adequately.
Wernicke’s aphasia is also termed as receptive aphasia or fluent aphasia. During this type of aphasia, the patient suffers from the impairment of the ability to understand the meaning of spoken words and sentences. However, these patients are still able to produce connected speech.
During this condition, writing and reading are severely impaired. During this condition, intellectual and cognitive capabilities are completely preserved which are not related to the speech and language. The people suffering from Wernicke’s aphasia can produce many words. They can also speak correctly at a normal rate, using the correct grammatical sentences.
Such patients have many language comprehension deficits, even in small words and sentences. This behavior of patients is due to their damaged brain areas that are important for the processing of words and language. During Wernicke’s aphasia, the left posterior temporal regions of the brain which is known as Wernicke’s area is affected. The name of this aphasia is given after the name of the affected area.
Carl Wernicke was the German neurologist who first identified this problem by relating this speech deficit to the damage in the Wernicke’s area (a left posterior temporal area of the brain). The names Wernicke’s area and Wernicke’s aphasia are given after the name of the German neurologist Carl Wernicke.