When you have aphasia, you can always learn ways to communicate.

I have aphasia because of the strokes. It is an ailment of a person’s ability to communicate. In other words, it is the failure to follow or express language because of damage to specific brain areas. People can be affected when they attempt to understand others or when they attempt to communicate with others. They can have problems with reading, writing, or speaking. 

If you have aphasia, you are not alone. In the USA, over one million people have aphasia. Worldwide, in 2016, 13.7 million people had a new stroke that year. Of them, 5.5 million died of the stroke. Each year, it means that about 7 million people will deal with the consequences of the stroke! It is estimated that up to 38% of stroke patients will have aphasia as one of the lasting symptoms of their stroke. That means worldwide, approximately 2.5 million stroke patients have the aftermath of aphasia each year.

A study found that aphasia has the largest negative impact on the quality of life. It’s up there with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. That means it is bad! You will know the impact if you have to deal with aphasia or if your loved one has it.

Following a brain injury like a stroke, tremendous changes occur in the brain. This helps it to recover. As a result, people with aphasia often see dramatic improvements in their language and communication abilities in the first few months, even without treatment. But in many cases, some aphasia remains following this initial recovery period. In these instances, speech-language therapy is used to help patients regain their ability to communicate.

Aphasia therapy aims to improve a person’s ability to communicate by helping him or her to use remaining language abilities, restore language abilities as much as possible, and learn other ways of communicating, such as gestures, pictures, or use of electronic devices. Individual therapy focuses on the specific needs of the person, while group therapy offers the opportunity to use new communication skills in a small-group setting.

Recent technologies have provided new tools for people with aphasia. “Virtual” speech pathologists provide patients with the flexibility and convenience of getting therapy in their homes through technology. The use of speech-generating applications on mobile devices like tablets or phones can provide an alternative way to communicate for people who have difficulty using spoken language.

Increasingly, patients with aphasia participate in activities, such as book clubs, technology groups, and art, drama, or singing clubs. Learning or practicing a second language helps. Stroke clubs, regional support groups formed by people who have had a stroke, are available in most major cities. These clubs can help a person and his or her family adjust to the life changes that accompany stroke and aphasia.

Such experiences help patients regain their confidence and social self-esteem, in addition to improving their communication skills. When you have aphasia, you can always learn ways to communicate. Remember, you need to have hope, even a bit!

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