Aphasia written on a note pad

Aphasia: When It Occurs and How Occupational and Speech Therapists Can Help

Aphasia is a disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate with others, and it's often caused by brain injury or damage to parts of the patient's brain where linguistic ability is processed. It affects the way a person uses words and the way words are understood by the affected person, but occupational and speech therapy can make a big difference for some patients.

Different Types of Aphasia

1. Non-fluent, expressive:

Expressive aphasia is characterized by a patient who knows what they want to say but is unable to verbalize or write the words.

2. Fluent, Receptive:

A patient with receptive aphasia can hear or read words but can't understand what the words mean.

3. Anomic:

Patients with anomic aphasia have difficulty finding the right written or spoken words to communicate thoughts.

4. Global:

Global aphasia leaves a patient unable to speak, read, write or comprehend words and often develops immediately following a stroke.

5. Primary Progressive:

Patients with primary progressive aphasia experience a gradual loss of ability to communicate, and there is no known treatment.

How Occupational Therapy Can Help With Aphasia

Because a patient's ability to communicate is impaired with aphasia, occupational therapists may have to find other ways to connect with and understand a patient.

  • Tools to use include pictures and picture books and drawing boards.
  • Focus on the patient's ability to understand and communicate.
  • Watch body language, including the patient's eye movement and hand gestures and signs of frustration.
  • Letting other staff members and the patient's family know which forms of communication are most effective helps the patient get through this challenging phase.

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How Speech Therapists Can Help Aphasia Patients

When a patient isn't able to speak, it's stressful for the patient, the patient's family members and for caregivers. A speech therapist is likely to combine impairment-based therapy techniques with communication-based techniques when working with aphasia patients.

  • Tactics like homework and computer programs may be incorporated.
  • Develop therapies based on communication -based therapy techniques..
  • Tailor therapy to accommodate the patient's wishes and to support the efforts of caregivers.

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