About Aphasia

What is Aphasia?

what is aphasiaAphasia (pronounced “uh FAY zhuh”) is an impairment in language following neurological (brain) damage. “Language” refers not only to the ability to express yourself verbally (i.e. to “speak”), but also to the abilities to listen and understand, read and write.  All of these abilities depend to some degree on the language centres of the brain, and are vulnerable to damage to these areas or to other areas of the brain that connect with these areas.* In aphasia, any or all of these abilities ( speaking, listening, reading and writing) can be affected to various degrees.

The specific symptoms and severity of aphasia vary widely. Truly, each person’s aphasia is different from all others. Because of this, it is difficult to describe aphasia in a way that includes all people with aphasia. In very general terms, a person with aphasia will have some degree of difficulty with speaking, listening, reading and/or writing.

The range of difficulties for people with aphasia is vast. For some people, speaking might be extremely difficult but understanding what they hear might be relatively easy. Others may have limited ability to understand speech. Some may be able to read better than they can understand, whereas others may lose the ability to read entirely.  Many people with aphasia will not be able to write, but others may be able to write better than they can talk.  People may struggle to say even common, short words, or may misunderstand some of what they hear.

Aphasia can be very mild – for some people, for instance, their aphasia may cause them to have words on the tip of their tongue more frequently than is normal, or to have occasional incorrect words come out. Aphasia can also be devastatingly severe – some people are not able to speak at all and are also not able to understand speech.   For most people with aphasia, their symptoms are between these two extremes.

*As you may know, our knowledge of the brain, its functions and its complexities is growing daily; this description of aphasia is greatly simplified.

Learn more about the Causes of Aphasia

Learn more about Aphasia Recovery

Learn more about Who Can Help