National Aphasia Awareness Month 2017: Aphasia Treatment Resources for Physicians & Clinicians
June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, and with good reason: Aphasia awareness has never been more important than it is today. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), it's estimated that, in the United States alone, there are approximately 180,000 new cases of aphasia every year, with approximately 1 million people (or one in every 250 Americans) living with this debilitating mental health condition.
A neurogenic disorder that results from injury to the brain — and, more specifically, from when a stroke affects the brain's left hemisphere — aphasia can impair a person's spoken language expression and comprehension, written expression, and reading comprehension.
"Although some patients recover from aphasia after a stroke within a matter of hours or days, others need extensive stroke rehab services," according to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "Some patients, such as those who have suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), may recover from aphasia without treatment." Most patients, however, will need to undergo therapy for aphasia "as soon as possible."
UT Southwestern goes on to outline the three types of aphasia:
- Broca’s (a.k.a., nonfluent or expressive aphasia) aphasia is defined as difficulty "speaking fluently but comprehension is intact"
- Wernicke’s (a.k.a. receptive or fluent aphasia) aphasia involves "impaired ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words"
- Global aphasia — the "most severe form" — is "characterized by a decreased ability to produce recognizable words and understand language"
ASHA cautions that a patient's symptoms "may not fit neatly into a single aphasia type, and classification may change over time as communication improves with recovery. In addition, symptoms can co-occur with other speech and language impairments such as dysarthria and apraxia of speech, which can complicate classification."
As both a neurologic and speech/language impairment, as well as the result of a stroke, diagnosis, and treatment of aphasia, involves a range of healthcare professionals, including neurologists, psychiatrists, emergency room physicians, and speech-language pathologists.
As it may also fall on the shoulders of primary care, family practice, and other physicians and specialists to recognize and even help treat aphasia, we're marking Aphasia Awareness Month with a rundown of aphasia information and treatment resources to help shed light on this prevalent neurological condition.
Aphasia Treatment Resources For Physicians & Clinicians
Aphasia Diagnosis & Treatment Options. UT Southwestern's aphasia overview includes a brief rundown of diagnosis and approved treatments, including cognitive-linguistic therapy, stimulation-facilitation therapy, group therapy, pharmacotherapy, and others. Check it out here.
Overview of Aphasia Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Assessment & More. ASHA's clinical overview of aphasia is comprehensive, spanning basic signs and symptoms to more advanced assessment and treatment options. View it here.
Aphasia Support for Patients, Caregivers, and Healthcare Professionals. The website of the National Aphasia Association is a great resource for everyone involved in aphasia, from patients to caregiving loved ones, to clinicians. You can find it here.
A Patient's Guide to Preparing for Aphasia Diagnosis & Treatment. This guide from the Mayo Clinic is helpful for patients preparing to see a doctor or clinician about their aphasia, and a great resource to pass along to patients nervous or uncertain about their treatment path. View it here.
Overview of Current Aphasia Research. Among a wealth of other information, this overview of aphasia from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) offers an informative rundown of current research on drug therapy, advanced imaging diagnosis, noninvasive brain stimulation, and more. Check it out here.
Aphasia Software Finder. The highly convenient Aphasia Software Finder aims to "help aphasia professionals have a detailed overview of what software and apps are available to help people with aphasia." You can find it here.
Aphasia Community & Support. The Aphasia Community is an "online support service designed to promote connections amongst those involved in the management of groups for people living with aphasia," particularly for healthcare professionals. Visit the Aphasia Community here.
Aphasia Patient Information Handouts. This collection of dozens of printable handouts is designed for clinicians to pass along to patients with the goal of better informing them about aphasia and what to expect from the treatment process. It includes easy-to-follow overviews of dizziness and balance, hearing loss, the role of technology in treatment, and lots more. You can find it here.