Aphasia/dysphasia have marked effects on people’s quality of life. The treatment and tools in this article help those with the condition confront their challenges.
A brain injury can cause a range of impairments. Some are more obvious than others. For example, such an injury can lead to a loved one losing motor function. Other brain injuries are signs of severe medical conditions, such as a brain tumor.
But brain injuries can also affect a person’s language abilities. Sometimes, what seems like a superficial head injury can alter how somebody hears and talks.
When this happens, speech-language experts call the condition aphasia or dysphasia. This article explores this condition and how family members can provide healthcare to those suffering from it.
What is aphasia/dysphasia?
First, it’s important to point out that aphasia and dysphasia are two names used to describe the same condition.
With that established, the condition refers to any situation where somebody has difficulties with language or speech due to a traumatic brain injury.
Speaking problems are the most apparent symptom. However, those with aphasia may struggle to write, type, and read. In some cases, aphasia also causes issues with listening. The affected person may have to work hard to decode what others say.
There are several potential causes of the condition. While head injuries are the most common, any damage that affects the left-side parts of the brain can lead to problems. For example, strokes and issues that limit blood flow can cause the condition.
Aphasia also operates on a spectrum, meaning there are different types and severities:
- Non-fluent aphasia
- Expressive aphasia (also called Wernicke’s aphasia)
- Global aphasia
- Receptive aphasia (also called Broca’s aphasia)
- Anomic aphasia
All create deficits related to speech and language that can lead to difficulty understanding the affected person. Any dysphasia or aphasia can impact on a loved one’s quality of life.
Treatment and tools for the condition
As aphasia affects communication skills, most aphasia therapy focuses on tools that improve communication. The following are helpful tools and treatments to consider.
Speech and language therapy are the main ways to help somebody diagnosed with aphasia. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) organizes these sessions. Some focus on the individual, while others may incorporate groups.
This therapy focuses on the neurology behind the language disorders aphasia creates. A pathologist may use various techniques to stimulate different areas of the brain. They may also help caregivers understand the extent of the brain damage from which their loved one suffers.
Support groups allow people to come together to share their experiences with aphasia. They’re often valuable to patients because support groups enable them to interact with people they can relate to directly. The right group may also allow people to practice their language skills.
Several resources can help you to find appropriate support groups:
- Aphasia Alliance
- The American Stroke Association
- The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- The National Aphasia Association
Diagnosis using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Understanding the extent of a brain injury is key to determining which type of aphasia affects your loved one.
MRI scans do that.
These scans detect shrinking in some regions of the brain. They can help to diagnose primary progressive aphasia. MRIs can also see issues and conditions that affect brain function, such as strokes, tumors, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduce background noise
Aphasia and dysphasia affect the temporal lobe. This lobe is the part of the brain responsible for processing what you hear. If the temporal lobe gets damaged, it’s more difficult for somebody to make out different sounds.
Background noise makes these challenges worse.
When speaking to somebody with aphasia, try to reduce background noise as much as possible. Ask others in the room to quieten down. Turn off any music and the television. Create conditions where the other person can focus solely on your voice.
Simplify your speech
Picking the right words at the right time can make all the difference for somebody with aphasia.
That doesn’t mean you always have to be super sensitive about the topics you cover. Instead, it means that keeping words as simple as possible helps people better understand what you’re saying.
For example, let’s say you use the word “endeavor” in a sentence. That’s a complex word your loved one may struggle to understand. “Try” is a more straightforward substitute that serves the same purpose. Look for ways to simplify your speech by shortening words whenever possible.
Text to speech apps
People with aphasia often have reading impairments. These issues affect almost every aspect of their lives. Imagine that you couldn’t read this article. Now, multiply that by everything you read online, books, magazines, and any other text you see.
It’s clear how reading difficulties can cause issues in every aspect of life.
Text to speech (TTS) readers solve these problems by reading text aloud to the user. Many feature optical character recognition (OCR) technology that allows users to take photos of text to read it aloud.
Some apps also allow you to slow down the voice, making it easier to understand.
Furthermore, studies suggest that people with aphasia believe the technology could be helpful to them. That belief alone can make TTS valuable for therapy and improving confidence.
Speechify – the TTS reader designed for ease of use
Using text to speech benefits people with aphasia and dysphasia. But it would help if you found the right software for the job.
That’s where Speechify comes in.
Speechify is a text to speech app that makes it easy for people to interpret written text. The reader speaks in over 20 languages and offers a range of narrators. It’s available on various platforms, including Android, iOS, and Google Chrome.
Users can choose the voice that’s best for them and slow it down to ensure understanding. If you’d like to learn more, or want to experiment with Speechify, you can try it for free today.
What is the purpose of aphasia treatment?
Aphasia treatment helps those with the condition confront their communication challenges. It may involve improving speech or helping the person with hearing issues.
What is the prognosis for people with aphasia?
The prognosis often depends on the condition’s cause. Most improvement occurs during the first few months of treatment and levels off after about a year.
What is the difference between aphasia and dysphasia?
There isn’t a difference. They’re two names for the same condition.