Aphasia is a communication disorder caused by damage to the brain. This disorder can affect the ability to speak and write, as well as the ability to understand words when reading or listening. Aphasia is often caused by a stroke or head injury.

People with aphasia are generally wrong in choosing or stringing words into a correct sentence. In addition, people with aphasia also cannot understand other people’s words. However, this communication disorder does not affect the level of intelligence and memory of the sufferer.

Aphasia can occur suddenly after a person has had a stroke or head injury . However, aphasia can also occur gradually as a result of a brain tumor or dementia .

Causes of Aphasia

Aphasia is not a disease, but rather a symptom that indicates damage to the part of the brain that regulates language and communication.

One of the most common causes of brain damage that triggers aphasia is stroke. When you have a stroke, the lack of blood flow to the brain causes brain cell death or damage to the part of the brain that processes language. It is known that about 25-40% of stroke patients suffer from aphasia.

In addition to stroke, brain damage from a head injury, brain tumor , or infection in the brain ( encephalitis ) can also cause aphasia. In these conditions, aphasia is usually accompanied by impaired memory and impaired consciousness.

Diseases that cause decreased function of brain cells, such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease , can also cause aphasia. In this condition, aphasia will develop gradually as the disease progresses.

Aphasia Symptoms

Symptoms of aphasia can vary, depending on the part of the brain that is damaged and the extent of the damage. Based on the symptoms that appear, aphasia can be divided into several types, namely:

1. Wernicke’s aphasia (receptive)

Wernicke’s aphasia or receptive aphasia is usually caused by damage to the brain in the left center. This condition, also known as sensory aphasia , makes it difficult for sufferers to understand the words they hear or read.

Receptive aphasia makes the sufferer give responses or sentences that are difficult for the other person to understand.

2. Broca’s aphasia (expressive)

In Broca’s aphasia or expressive aphasia, the sufferer knows what he wants to convey to the other person, but has difficulty expressing it. This condition, also known as motor aphasia , is usually caused by damage to the brain on the left front.

3. Global aphasia

Global aphasia is the most severe aphasia and usually occurs when a person has just had a stroke . Global aphasia is usually caused by extensive damage to the brain.

Global aphasia causes sufferers to have difficulty even being unable to read, write, and understand other people’s words.

4. Primary progressive aphasia

This condition causes a gradual decline in the ability to read, write, speak, and understand conversation. Primary progressive aphasia is rare and difficult to treat.

5. Anomic aphasia

People with anomic aphasia or anomia often have difficulty choosing and finding the right words when writing and speaking.

When to go to the doctor

Since aphasia is a symptom of a more serious condition, see your doctor immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms. A doctor’s examination is needed to prevent the condition from getting worse and prevent complications.

Aphasia Diagnosis

Diagnosis of aphasia begins with questions and answers about the symptoms experienced by the patient, as well as the patient’s and family’s medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, including an examination of the nervous system .

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional tests, such as:

  • Communication
    assessment This examination aims to measure the patient’s ability to write, read, speak, understand conversation, and verbal expression.
  • Brain
    scan Scans are performed to detect damage in the brain and its severity. The scan can be done with an MRI , CT scan , or positron emission tomography (PET scan).

Aphasia Treatment

If the brain damage is mild, the aphasia may improve on its own. However, if the aphasia is severe enough, the doctor will provide treatment.

The method of treating aphasia will be adjusted to the type of aphasia suffered, the part of the brain that is damaged, the cause of the brain damage, the age, and the patient’s health condition.

These methods include:

Speech therapy

Speech and language therapy aims to improve the ability to read, write, and follow commands. In addition, patients will also be taught how to communicate with movement or pictures.

Speech therapy can be done using technology such as computer programs or applications.

Drugs

Drugs to treat aphasia usually work by increasing blood flow to the brain, preventing further brain damage, and increasing the amount of chemical compounds that are reduced in the brain. One of the drugs used is piracetam .

Operation

Surgical procedures may be performed if the aphasia is caused by a brain tumor. Surgery aims to remove the brain tumor so that the aphasia can be treated properly.

Complications of Aphasia

Communication disorders due to aphasia can affect the sufferer’s daily life, including in terms of work and personal relationships. If not treated immediately, aphasia can cause anxiety disorders , depression , and the desire to isolate oneself from the environment.

Aphasia Prevention

There is no definite way to prevent aphasia. The best thing that can be done is to prevent conditions that can cause aphasia. Some of these preventive measures are:

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Maintain ideal body weight to avoid obesity
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Keeping the mind active, for example by reading, writing, or drawing
  • Eating a complete and balanced nutritious diet , and limiting foods high in fat, sugar, and salt
  • Use a helmet or seat belt when driving
  • Take medication and regularly check with the doctor if you suffer from diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation , to prevent stroke