Aphasia is a complicated and unique language disorder. Our lab completes research in order to answer questions about how aphasia works and how it affects individuals with aphasia.
APHASIA (Uh-Fay-Zhuh) is an acquired neurogenic disorder as a result of a sudden event-usually a STROKE or BRAIN INJURY (examples: tumor or traumatic brain injury) that affects a person’s ability to communicate.
Aphasia may affect a person in four areas: communicating verbally (verbal expression), understanding others (comprehension), writing (written expression), and reading (reading comprehension). The degree of impairment and outcome of aphasia can vary significantly from person to person.
In other, more rare cases, aphasia may develop gradually. This is called Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). For more info on PPA, see our separate FAQ.
There are many different types of aphasia based on the characteristics of verbal expression (fluent vs nonfluent)
Nonfluent types: A person's speech is more halting and effortful, grammar is impaired
- Broca's aphasia: language comprehension is relatively intact but speech is reduced and can be limited to short words and phrases. Formation of words and sounds can be halting and laborious.
- Transcortical Motor Aphasia: language comprehension is relatively intact with more difficulty spontaneously answering questions, but repetition can be a relative strength.
- Global Aphasia: language comprehension is impaired with severe difficulties in both expressive and receptive language skills. This is the most severe form of aphasia. Persons with global aphasia have difficulty reading and writing in addition to speaking and understanding. They may be able to communicate with intonation, gestures and facial expressions.
Fluent: A person is able to produce connected speech but sentence structure may lack meaning.
- Conduction aphasia: language comprehension is intact but word finding difficulties exist with difficulty repeating phrases.
- Anomic Aphasia: Language comprehension is intact, but word finding difficulties are apparent with use of generic words (ex: "thing") to name. Persons have difficulty coming up with specific nouns and verbs. Frustration may be evident. Reading skills may be adequate but writing is impacted by word finding difficulties.
- Wernickes's Aphasia: repetition of words and phrases can be poor, language comprehension is impaired. Connected speech is not affected, however the sentences may not make sense with irrelevant words present. Reading and writing can be severely impaired.
- Transcortical Sensory Aphasia: Comprehension impaired with good repetition of words and phrases. Person may repeat a question rather than answering it.
For a PDF of classification system please visit:
Many different speech and language disorders may appear similar to aphasia. Some of these disorders can be diagnosed at the same time as aphasia, especially following a stroke. Apraxia of speech (AOS), dysarthria, and dysphagia are a few examples.
There is no cure for aphasia. Problems with communication may last for a long time.
However, research has shown us that aphasia can continue to improve several years after diagnosis. Intensive treatment is important for continued improvement.
You are not alone. According to the 2016 survey on aphasia awareness from the National Aphasia Association, 84.5 % of people have never heard the term "aphasia."
You can help! Educating yourself and others will help spread aphasia awareness. Just by visiting our website, you are helping to spread aphasia awareness!
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are persons trained to complete assessments and provide treatment to people with a variety of communication and swallowing disorders. A few disorders SLPs may work with include:
- Language: described as how well we communicate verbally and understand what others are saying.
- Speech Sounds: how well we can say sounds and put sounds together into words
- Fluency: can also be called stuttering, this is how well your speech flows in words, sentences and conversation
- Cognitive-communication: general thinking skills which include areas of memory, attention, organization, and problem solving
- Feeding and swallowing-described as how well others can chew, swallow, or suck food and liquids (dysphagia)
- Voice: how we use our voice and how it sounds.
- Social Communication-how we follow the social aspects of conversation (turn-taking, appropriateness of personal space when speaking, etc).
Speech-Language Pathologists can work in a variety of different places including: university setting, hospitals, school systems, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, and more!
Speech therapy for people with aphasia should be individualized in order to work on the person's specific difficulty with language. Therapy is provided by a Speech-Language Pathologist in individual or group sessions or both!
The Purdue Aphasia Lab does not provide therapy to people with aphasia. For more info regarding therapy, please go to the M.D. Steer Speech, Language and Swallowing Clinic website.
Yes! The Purdue Aphasia Group offers a support group on the campus of Purdue University. Caregivers and people with aphasia are invited to participate. Please see our resources page for more information.
Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a neurological condition that gradually impacts the parts of the brain that controls speech and language. It is not caused by stroke or other acute event. PPA is caused by neurodegenerative disease and gradually occurs over time. Persons with PPA usually have difficulty speaking, word finding or understanding others. There is no cure for PPA, but speech therapy may assist with managing and developing strategies to assist with communicating with others.
Although aphasia and dysphagia sound very similar, they are very different disorders.
Dysphagia (dis-fey-juh) is a feeding and swallowing disorder as a result of various medical conditions. Speech-Language Pathologists are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia.
Apraxia (ei prak see uh) of Speech (AOS) is an acquired speech disorder. Acquired AOS typically results from brain injury (for example: stroke) and can co-exist with aphasia. AOS impairs a person's ability to perform specific speech movements. Apraxia of Speech's characteristics can consist of: slowed speech, distortions of speech sounds, inconsistent errors and abnormal prosody. Persons with apraxia of speech often appear to be searching for the right way to move their tongue, lips and mouth when speaking.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are the result of sudden, external forces (a blow or a jolt to the head or body) on the skull and brain possibly leading to permanent or temporary impairments cognitively or physically. Some typical causes of TBI may include: falls, automobile accidents, gunshot wounds or other forms of violence, sports injuries, or explosive blasts/other combat injuries.
Mild TBI Physical Symptoms (to list a few):
-Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
-No loss of consciousness but confused and disoriented
-Vomiting or Nausea
Mild TBI Cognitive Symptoms (to list a few):
-Mood changes or mood swings
-Memory or Concentration problems
Moderate to severe TBI Physical Symptoms can include (but not limited to):
-Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
-Persistent headache or headache that worsens
-Repeated vomiting or nausea
-Inability to awaken from sleep
-Loss of coordination
Moderate to severe TBI Cognitive Symptoms can include (but not limited to):
Adapted from mayoclinic.org