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Aphasia is speaking problems - they can include difficulties with speaking as well as the inability to understand other people's sentences. The cause of aphasia is various damage to the structures of the central nervous system - the most common of which is stroke. What is the prognosis of a patient with aphasia - are there any chances that they will regain the ability to speak freely and understand speech?

What is aphasia?

Aphasiais a term derived from the Greek language, more precisely from the word aphasia - the prefix "a" in this case means without, while "phasis" is translated as speech. Thus, in the simplest translation, aphasia can be understood as the inability to speak, but in practice this problem may take place in this way, but also in a slightly different way.

Due to the fact that spoken language is undoubtedly very important for human communication, difficulties with speech are picked up quite quickly both by the person experiencing them and by their environment.

For this reason, the first description of aphasia was written very long ago - references to this problem can be found already in ancient Egyptian papyri, in which this disorder was described in a human whose temporal lobes of the brain were damaged as a result of a head injury.

Aphasia - due to its causes - is mainly found in middle-aged and elderly people. However, it is possible at any time in life, even in a few-year-old child.

Aphasia - reasons

Aphasia develops in people when they experience some damage to structures belonging to the central nervous system. Here, however, it is necessary to emphasize a key aspect - this problem has its origins inin defects related to the brain itself , in people with aphasia, the speech motor apparatus, i.e. the tongue and elements of the larynx are fully functional.

In the past, it was believed that aphasia could only be caused bydamage to specific regions of the brain. I am talking about the so-calledspeech centers , which are:

  • Broka's center(called the speech motor center, it is located in the frontal lobe of the brain)
  • Wernicke's center(or speech sensory center, it is located in the temporal lobe of the brain)

Indeed, it is the direct damage to the speech centers that can cause aphasia to the greatest extent, but in practice it turns out that also damage to, for example, nerve fibers that connect these centers with other regions of the brain, can also result in speech disorders.

The disease that most often causes aphasia is stroke - it is estimated that up to 40% of all patients who develop it end up with a speech disorder.

Aphasia, however, can occur as a result of other diseases, such as :

  • head injury
  • neuroinfection (such as herpetic encephalitis)
  • neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease)
  • brain tumors
  • atherosclerosis of arterial vessels supplying blood to the brain

The above are the most common causes of aphasia. This problem, although much less frequently, may also result from epilepsy (then the aphasia is usually temporary and lasts a short time), and cases of aphasia as a side effect of using painkillers containing fentanyl have also been reported.

Aphasia - symptoms and types

Aphasia is usually not difficult to identify - speech disorders are usually clearly visible to the patient's surroundings, and often also to the patient himself. In the course of the problem, there may be, inter alia, to:

  • of considerable degreedifficulty with even the simplest sentence
  • problems with naming certain items- it may seem as if the patient does not remember the name of the item
  • use in conversationsbizarre words or form sentencesthat are completelymeaningless
  • utteringonly single,completely incomprehensible words

It should be emphasized, however, that even if the patient spends only scraps of words, he / she usually has what he / she wants to say at the moment in his head - aphasia does not result from memory problems or deficiencies intellectual disorder, but is simply a disorder of speech itself.

It should also be added here that aphasia can proceed very differently - for this reason, there are various types of aphasia, which areamong others :

  • motor aphasia : this consists in the patient losing the ability to speak - he would like to say something but unable
  • sensory aphasia : problem with the patient being able to speak himself, but not being able to understand other people's statements
  • mixed aphasia : in its course, the patient has difficulties both with speaking andunderstanding the sentenceshe hears
  • agnostic aphasia(otherwise nominal): it is characterized by the fact that the patient finds it difficult to choose the right words during the conversation, in addition, he has difficulties naming various objects

Aphasia and dysartria

It is worth emphasizing that not only aphasia can lead to speech disorders, but also another problem - dysarthria. However, as it has already been mentioned, aphasia is caused by damage to the brain structures involved in linguistic functions, and dysarthria results from a malfunction of the speech motor apparatus, e.g. muscle structures related to voice emission (the cause of which may be their damage, but also paralysis of the nerves that supply them ).

Aphasia - diagnostics

The onset of aphasia - especially sudden -should always be consulted with a doctor.

The cause of this problem may even be a stroke, which requires appropriate therapeutic treatment to be implemented in the patient as soon as possible.

In the case of aphasia, the patient first undergoes a neurological examination - other abnormalities detected during it (such as, for example, sensory disturbances or paresis) may suggest what exactly the disease occurred in the patient or which part of his brain remained damaged.

Later, imaging examinations of the head, such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, are usually ordered - the mentioned ones make it possible to identify, for example, foci of ischemia within the brain or the existence of an intracranial tumor in the patient.

Aphasia - treatment

The aphasia itself is not a disease but a symptom - the treatment that is administered to the patient must therefore focus on the cause of the aphasia. In patients who have suffered a stroke, as their condition improves, speech disorders may also disappear.

In this case, however, the improvement may be of various degrees - in some patients the aphasiadisappears completely , while in others the problempersists all the time. For many of these patients, speech training turns out to be very important, which - conducted with the participation of a speech therapist - often allows to reduce the level of the existingthey have speech disorders.

The treatment of aphasia is much different in people who developed it in connection with a brain tumor. In their case, effective therapy, based e.g. on the removal of the entire lesion, sometimes turns out to be a sufficient method of treatment - it happens that the tumor compresses the speech centers in the brain and its resection, eliminating this pressure, leads to aphasia.

Aphasia - prognosis

As aphasia affects the quality of life (after all, it is not difficult to guess that the sudden loss of the ability to speak has a significant impact on the patient's psyche), it does not affect the patients' survival. However, the exact prognosis of people who will develop aphasia cannot be determined - it all depends on the reason for this problem.

Better overall prognosishave neuroinfection (especially one that can be successfully treated), and definitely worse, e.g. those patients with aphasia in due to the occurrence of a very malignant brain tumor.

Read also:

  • Echolalia
  • Synesthesia, or confusion of the senses
  • Taste disturbance
  • Apraxia
  • Closure team

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