Does Speech Therapy Help Aphasia?

Does Speech Therapy Help Aphasia?

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder. It is the inability to comprehend or express language. Aphasia usually occurs in adults after cerebrovascular accidents such as strokes. It can also result from a brain tumor, head injury, or significant damage to the left hemisphere. Almost 25-40% of stroke survivors present with Aphasia and need therapy.

There are mainly two broad categories in which communication is impaired in Aphasia.

  1. Impaired Comprehension: Inability to understand what the speaker is saying to them.
  2. Impaired Expression: Inability to use spoken language in conversations

So now that we know what Aphasia is, what exactly happens? And what difficulties occur?

People with Aphasia have various difficulties such as:

  • Impairments in Spoken Language Expression

    • Having difficulty finding words
    • Speaking using single words (e.g., names of  daily objects)
    • Speaking in short, fragmented phrases (broken-like speech)
    • Omission of some words like the is, and was (i.e., telegraphic speech)
    • Making considerable grammatical errors
    • Speaking in jumbled words
    • Substituting sounds or words (e.g., “lat” for “bat”; “spoon” for “fork”)
    • Making up meaningless words (e.g., jargon)
  • Impairments in Spoken Language Comprehension

    • Having difficulty understanding spoken utterances
    • Difficulty in answering “yes/no” questions
    • Failing to understand complex grammar such as passive voice (e.g., “The boy was chased by the cow.”)
    • Use the literal meaning of figurative speech such as “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”)
  • Impairments in Written Expression (Agraphia)

    • Having difficulty writing or copying letters, words, and sentences
    • Substituting incorrect letters or words
    • Spelling or writing nonsense syllables or words
    • Writing sentences with incorrect grammar
  • Impairments in Reading Comprehension (Alexia)

    • Having difficulty comprehending written text
    • Difficulty in recognizing some words by sight (sight words)
    • Inability to sound out words (new words)
    • Substituting associated words for a word (e.g., “bed” for cot)

Because you have all these affected, it can make it difficult for you or your loved ones to speak, read, write, or simply, communicate. So the next question is; what helps Aphasia? Now, we know that it is a language disorder. Therefore, speech and language therapy helps people with Aphasia communicate. Let us see how:

Impairment Based Speech Therapy for Aphasia

We saw above that there are various areas affected by Aphasia. The aim of using impairment-based therapies is to improve language functions. This includes working on speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. A speech therapist will use speech therapy to help Aphasia recover. You will observe your speech therapist use various techniques to do this.

Language therapy will most importantly focus on tasks that promote comprehension and expression skills. Some techniques also facilitate reading and writing skills. Along with this, the speech therapist will ask you or the caregivers to do some home training activities to supplement your progress.

Some impairment-based therapies commonly used for Aphasia include:

  • Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) to improve comprehension skills
  • Semantic Feature Analysis (SFA) to improve naming skills
  • Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) to improve expressive skills
  • Oral Reading for Language in Aphasia (ORLA) to improve reading and writing skills

Communication-based Therapy for Aphasia

Communication-based speech therapy is used to promote communication by any means and encourage support from caregivers. These treatments are meant to assist the person with aphasia in learning how to convey messages in day-to-day life activities.  In other words, it is also known as functional communication. These approaches are also geared towards the caregivers. This kind of communication is natural and realistic. Your speech therapist will guide you in suggesting an appropriate therapeutic approach. Therefore, always consult a qualified speech-language pathologist for Aphasia therapy.

Some common functional communication-based approaches include:

  • PACE Therapy (Promoting Aphasics’ Communicative Effectiveness)
  • Visual Action Therapy (VAT)
  • Life Participation Approach towards Aphasia (LPAA)
  • Partner approaches such as Conversational Coaching and Supported Communication Intervention (SCI)

To conclude, speech therapy does help with Aphasia. However, the improvement of the language skills does depend on various variables such as the severity of the Aphasia, type of impairments, age of the individual, etc. Consequently, consult your speech and language pathologist today to learn more about Aphasia therapy.

Here at 1SpecialPlace, our speech and language pathologists provide individualized therapy programs for individuals with Aphasia. Consult with us today!

Vaz Larisa
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