Manaksha Memon describes a painful ailment
Aphasia affliction has made headlines recently when celebrated actor Bruce Willis’ family announced that the condition would be ending his career. Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that makes speaking and understanding what others say difficult. It can be partial or total. These difficulties are not caused by mental, auditory or emotional problems but rather brain damage in the areas responsible for language.
There are two types of aphasia: fluent (or Wernicke’s) and non-fluent (or Broca’s). The first affects the ability to understand a sentence, while the second affects the way someone expresses themselves. Each type involves a different part of the brain. Global aphasia occurs when a person loses almost all of their ability to speak, understand and write. This means that damage has occurred in the left temporal and frontal lobes, where the regions responsible for language, known as Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas, are located.
There are further two variants described as Anomia and conduction aphasia. Anomia describes a difficulty naming specific objects and presents as an inability to recall or pronounce a particular term. In contrast, someone with conduction aphasia is unable to repeat sentences, expressions, or words they hear. They may use the wrong word or utter a meaningless sequence of words, all while maintaining fluid speech.
Aphasia affliction most often occurs as a result of a brain injury, such as a stroke (the most common cause), heart attack, or hemorrhage. In rarer cases, the cause may be cancer, trauma, infection, inflammation, or related to certain types of dementia. Aphasia can affect not only speaking and listening skills, but also the ability to read and write. Again, the form it takes depends on the area of the brain affected.
Diagnosing aphasia is very important. Aphasia usually appears soon after the event that caused it. To establish a diagnosis, doctors will check a patient’s language skills using various tests to determine their ability to speak and rule out other possible conditions such as delirium. If aphasia is present, a brain scan will be ordered to determine which areas of the brain are affected and to what extent. Losing the ability to communicate in such a short period of time completely changes your life. For those suffering from aphasia, reading a book, watching a TV show, talking on the telephone, finding their way around an unfamiliar place, and even filling out a simple form can become a challenge. Aphasia’s effect on communication touches all areas of life, from relationships with loved ones to professional pursuits. Furthermore, language barriers that become too difficult to overcome risk leaving aphasia patients depressed.
Aphasia affliction due to mild brain damage often gets better without treatment. In other cases, intensive speech therapy, the most common option, should be started as soon as symptoms appear. Other forms of therapy (group, computer-assisted, etc.) help patients relearn how to converse or formulate certain words, while a brain stimulation technique, called neuromodulation has proved effective in treating non-fluent (speech-related) aphasia.
The chances of recovery from aphasia depend on a number of factors, such as the severity of the disorder, the area of the brain affected, and the cause and extent of the damage. For example, aphasia caused by a stroke or trauma may either partially or completely disappear. The degree of recovery typically depends on how quickly rehabilitation is initiated.
The prevention of the affliction is of prime importance. Aphasia is most often the result of a stroke, so adopting healthy habits that reduce the risk of stroke is one of the best ways to prevent it. Monitoring your blood pressure and making healthy lifestyle changes (diet, physical activity, etc.) can sometimes be a complete game changer and should be regularly adopted. TW