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Mon, Jan. 27

Language problems may be due to stroke or trauma

National Aphasia Association

If you can read a newspaper, but cannot read a children’s story out loud, you might be one of nearly 1 million people in United States who live with aphasia, a language disorder caused most often by stroke or brain trauma, according to a news release from Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.

Aphasia is a language disorder that can affect a person’s ability to communicate. It can impair a person’s ability to speak, read, listen, or write – but it does not influence intelligence, the release said.

Symptoms of aphasia can range from mild to severe, depending on the location and extent of the brain damage.

“Some people with aphasia may have minor problems finding words to communicate complex messages, while others may have lost the ability to read or write,” said Dr. Alan Berman, medical director at the rehabilitation hospital. “But regardless of the severity, most find it frustrating to not be able to communicate like they did before aphasia occurred.”

But Berman assures there is hope, but in all cases requires patience and proper understanding of this medical condition that can leave patients frustrated as they struggle to articulate words, write or even read the printed word.

Aphasia symptoms often can be improved through a collaborative team approach with speech-language pathologists, family members and other professionals such as doctors, nurses, neuropsychologists, and other therapists, Berman said. Hospital staff’s goal with aphasia treatment is to improve patient’s quality of life by improving their confidence so they might be willing to try and communicate in ways that they may fear are lost to them.

Some tips offered to help those whose loved one has such a diagnosis: get the person’s attention prior to speaking; eliminate background noise; keep conversation simple; speak slowly and softly; be creative; if patient can’t speak or write, maybe they can draw a picture or use computer aids; be patient and kind; downplay errors.

“Aphasia can have a lifelong impact on an individual,” Berman said. “So it’s important to have ongoing support that allows a person with aphasia to continue practicing communication strategies, explore resources, gain encouragement and learn how to best navigate life with this disorder.”

To learn more, visit the National Aphasia Awareness website at, email karenrussell@ernest or call 602-540-5310.

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