How strokes, trauma af­fect com­mu­ni­ca­tion

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page - By Erin Blake­more

WHAT if you wanted to speak but couldn’t string to­gether recog­nis­able words? What if some­one spoke to you but you couldn’t un­der­stand what they were say­ing?

These sit­u­a­tions aren’t hy­po­thet­i­cal for the more than one million Amer­i­cans with apha­sia, which af­fects the abil­ity to un­der­stand and speak with oth­ers.

Apha­sia oc­curs in peo­ple who have had strokes, trau­matic brain in­juries or other brain dam­age. Some vic­tims have a scram­bled vo­cab­u­lary or are un­able to ex­press them­selves; oth­ers find it hard to make sense of the words they read or hear.

The dis­or­der doesn’t re­duce in­tel­li­gence, only a per­son’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate. And al­though there is no de­fin­i­tive cure, it can be treated. Many peo­ple make sig­nif­i­cant re­cov­er­ies from apha­sia af­ter a stroke, for ex­am­ple.

July is Apha­sia Aware­ness Month, a fine time to learn more about the dis­or­der. The TED-Ed series of­fers a les­son on apha­sia, com­plete with an en­gag­ing video that de­scribes the con­di­tion, its causes and its treat­ment, along with a quiz, dis­cus­sion ques­tions and other re­sources.

Cre­ated by Su­san Wort­man-Jutt, a speech-lan­guage pathol­o­gist who treats apha­sia, it’s a good in­tro­duc­tion to the dis­or­der and how dam­age to the brain’s lan­guage cen­tres can ham­per an in­di­vid­ual’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate. An­other re­source is the Na­tional Apha­sia As­so­ci­a­tion. Its web­site, apha­sia.org, con­tains in­for­ma­tion about the dis­or­der and links to sup­port and treat­ment op­tions. Apha­sia can have last­ing ef­fects, but there is hope for peo­ple whose brains are in­jured. – Wash­ing­ton Post.

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