June is Aphasia Awareness Month

by Tracy Biller, M.A., CCC-SLP

Aphasia is a language disorder resulting from an injury to the brain, such as stroke or head trauma. People with Aphasia experience varying degrees of communication difficulties. Symptoms may include having difficulty speaking –a person may have trouble finding the word they want to say; speak with many pauses or verbal repetitions such as “um…um…um”; omit smaller words such as “the” and “of”; or put words in the wrong order.

In addition, people with Aphasia may have trouble understanding what is being said to them. They may have difficulty understanding longer sentences and conversations and find it challenging to follow fast speech. Added complications include problems identifying letters, numbers, words, objects, or pictures and difficulty following directions. Aphasia makes it very difficult for someone to be able to read or write, furthering limiting the ability to communicate.

Treatment

Speech-language therapy helps to improve a person’s ability to communicate by restoring as much language as possible. It also teaches how to compensate for lost language skills and to find other methods of communicating. Some studies have found that therapy is most effective when it begins soon after brain injury. Group speech-language therapy for those with Aphasia is another way to practice communication skills in a safe environment. Participants practice initiating conversations, speaking in turn, and clarifying misunderstandings.

Northeast Ohio Adults Communicating Together (NEO-ACT)

Northeast Ohio Adults Communicating Together (NEO-ACT) is a one-of-a-kind program developed by Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center for adults with communication disorders, such as Aphasia, related to stroke, injury or illness. The program is designed to provide people with communication difficulties an opportunity to improve quality of life through participation in activities that provide enrichment for listening, speaking, reading, writing, and socialization. For more information visit www.chsc.org/neo-act.

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