According to the National Aphasia Association, 2 million people in the United States have aphasia. Many people don’t know what Aphasia is. Do you?

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects one’s ability to comprehend or produce speech. It occurs from a brain injury such as a stroke, head injury, brain tumor or other brain disease. Aphasia is often called a hidden disability because it can’t be seen. Pathways in the brain are impaired, which results in difficulty communicating and understanding speech. Aphasia is not a reflection of one’s intelligence. Often a person with aphasia knows what they want to say and how they feel, but it’s difficult for them to get the message out. They may also have difficulty interpreting what you are saying to them. Just because the person with aphasia may not respond doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. They may be trying to answer you but can’t get the words out.

Imagine picking up the newspaper and seeing a bunch of words but not being able to recognize the words or comprehend what they mean. Imagine how scary and frustrating that would be, especially when this was a task that was a part of your daily routine prior to your brain injury.

Imagine trying to say to someone, “go get the car” and instead you say, “go get the cat.” You may realize the wrong word came out but cannot find the right word, or you may not even realize the wrong word came out. How would you react when the person brings the cat instead of the car? Frustrated? Confused? That is how a person with aphasia may feel.

Imagine trying to tell someone your phone number or address and you just keep saying the number 2 over and over and over.

Imagine trying to write your name, putting the pen to the paper and not being able to get the first letter out.

A person with aphasia may have difficulty talking, understanding what others are saying, as well as difficulty reading, writing or using numbers.

A speech-language pathologist can further assess the severity and type of aphasia, help train strategies, and provide family training to help a person with aphasia communicate more effectively.

RRMC provides speech-language therapy services to both inpatients and outpatients. If you would like more information about our speech-language services at RRMC, visit our website at https://www.rrmc.org/services/rehabilitation/speech-language-pathology/ or contact us at 802-747-1840.

This week’s Health talk was written by Julie Wolinsky, Rehabilitation Services, Rutland Regional Medical Center.

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