Aphasia: what it is and how to make communication easier

Communication difficulty is scientifically called aphasia, which is usually the result of a change in the brain, which may be due to a stroke, in most cases, or due to a brain tumor or as a result of accidents by car, with a firearm or severe falls.

Aphasia corresponds to a neurological alteration in two regions of the brain, known as Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. According to the affected area, aphasia can be classified as:

  • Broca’s aphasia , in which there is involvement of the area of ​​the brain responsible for language, with difficulty in forming complete sentences and connecting words, for example;
  • Wernicke’s aphasia , in which there is an impairment of the area of ​​the brain responsible for understanding speech, having difficulty maintaining a conversation, since the speech becomes incoherent;
  • Mixed aphasia , in which the two regions are affected

The loss of the ability to speak and understand can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause of the aphasia. It is important that aphasia is identified and treated by the speech therapist in order to stimulate the affected areas of the brain and, thus, strategies to facilitate day-to-day communication can be adopted.

Although it is often considered difficult to communicate with a person with aphasia, it is important to use strategies that can facilitate coexistence and thus reduce frustration and promote improvement in the person’s quality of life.

How to make communication easier

The ideal is that in addition to monitoring the speech therapist, the person has support from friends and family so that communication becomes easier. Thus, it is important that measures are implemented that encourage and facilitate communication with the person who has aphasia, such as:

  • Use simple phrases and speak slowly;
  • Allow the other person to speak without being in a hurry;
  • Do not try to complete the sentences of the person with aphasia;
  • Avoid background noises like radio on or window open;
  • Use drawings and gestures to explain an idea;
  • Ask questions whose answer is yes or no;
  • Avoid excluding the patient with aphasia from conversations.

In addition, it can be interesting to also establish topics before the conversation starts, this allows the person to know exactly what the conversation will be about and, thus, is not caught off guard. It may also be interesting to note the types of changes and the reaction of the patient with aphasia during the conversation, so that doctors can adapt the treatment techniques in order to make coexistence less limited.

Tips for those with aphasia to be able to communicate better

People diagnosed with aphasia should also take steps to make their communication more fluid and the areas of the brain affected to be stimulated. Thus, to be able to communicate better, the person with aphasia may have a small notepad and a pen to be able to express ideas through drawings, whenever it is necessary to communicate, besides being interesting to create a small book of words, images and expressions that you use often.

In addition, it is important that universal gestures such as “stop”, “jewel”, “ok” or “over there” be adopted, for example, because that way if you cannot speak, you can demonstrate and thus communicate. Another strategy that can be interesting is to have a card in your purse or wallet explaining that you have aphasia, so that the people you are communicating with can adapt the communication process.

The family can also get involved in improving the communication of the person with aphasia, stimulating with pictures of family members, so that the person tries to name, or even, put small stickers pasted on objects so that the person tries to name these objects, for example “door”, “window”, “table” and others.

How to know if it is Aphasia

Aphasia can cause difficulty in saying what you want or difficulty in understanding what others are saying. The signs of aphasia vary according to the region of the brain affected, the most common being:

1. Difficulty speaking – Broca’s aphasia

In this type of aphasia, the person finds it difficult to say the words they want, usually substitutes words for others that are not related or do not make sense in the context, such as replacing “fish” with “book”, has difficulty creating sentences with more 2 words and often mixes words that do not exist with others that make sense in a sentence.

In addition, it is common in drill aphasia for a person to exchange the sound of some words, such as “washing machine” for “láquima de mavar”, and to speak words that do not exist thinking they exist and that make sense.

2. Difficulty understanding – Wernicke’s aphasia

In Wernicke’s aphasia, a person misunderstands what others are saying, especially when they speak faster, cannot understand what someone else is saying when there is noise in the environment and have difficulty reading books or any other written content.

In this type of aphasia, there may also be difficulties in understanding the concept of numbers, such as knowing what time it is or counting money, in addition to literally understanding jokes or popular expressions such as “it is raining pocketknives”, for example.

How is the treatment of aphasia in the speech therapist

The treatment of aphasia is initiated, in most cases, with language therapy sessions in a speech therapist’s office, through activities that stimulate the affected brain areas. In these sessions, the speech therapist can ask the patient to try to express himself using only speech, without being able to use gestures or drawings, for example.

In other sessions, the speech therapist can teach how to properly use some of these techniques, such as making gestures, making drawings or pointing to objects, to communicate better.

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