Right hemisphere damage and speech skills

Right hemisphere damage and speech skills

Right hemisphere damage and speech skills

In this blog, we will talk about right hemisphere damage and speech skills. I know these are complex terms. But, our brain in itself is such a complex body part. In layman’s terms, the brain is divided into two sides, the left side and the right side. Each side controls the other half. This means, your right side is controlled by the left half of the brain and vice versa. Isn’t this an amazing fact? Each side has its functions. Damage to those parts results in reduced or lack of those functions. The left side controls almost everything related to speaking.

Damage to the left side causes different types of aphasia. I am sure you might have heard of Bruce Willis recently taking a break from acting as he has aphasia. But, what if most of us are unaware is that the right side also controls some parts of speech and language skills. Let’s know about this and what impact it can have.

What are the functions of the right hemisphere?

There are various theories on what is the function of each side. While the left side in general happens to be more logical and analytical, the right side is more creative and holistic. There was a belief that your personality is influenced by the dominant side. However, it no longer holds true.

The right hemisphere helps people with:
  1. Holistic thinking – understanding as a whole rather than details. For example, what is the purpose, and value of your business?
  2. Imagination
  3. Intuition
  4. Arts and creativity
  5. Rhythm and music
  6. Non-verbal cues
  7. Emotions
  8. Recognizing faces
  9. Visualization and attention

What are Right Hemisphere damage and its causes?

Right hemisphere Damage occurs when the right side of the brain is affected. This can happen due to brain hemorrhage, surgery, infections, tumor, and accident. Following are the signs and symptoms:

  • Attention and difficulty with listening
  • Left-sided neglect or weakness: They may ignore the left side of the plate, paper, book, body, etc.
  • Reasoning and problem solving are difficult
  • Memory impairment: different parts of the body control memory. If the right side of that is damaged, it results in memory deficits.
  • Social communication difficulty
  • Difficulty with organization and orientation
  • Difficulty understanding abstract language and emotions
  • Lack of awareness of their problem (anosognosia)

Right hemisphere damage and its impact on speech

Impact on speech is variable for RHD. They will not have word-finding-related difficulties or not be able to speak in a sentence. They will have difficulties with complex language function and cognition. RHD impacts the following areas:

  1. Narration-related difficulty: They will use more words than required. They will often sway away from the topic. Their thoughts are disorganized and will be focusing on irrelevant details. It is not like they can’t remember the correct word unlike in aphasia, but it’s the damage because of which they can’t say it coherently.
  2. Narration comprehension-related difficulties: If you are talking to them, they will have difficulty understanding proverbs or figurative language. They can’t understand words with multiple meanings. Right Hemisphere involves in understanding the holistic picture. Therefore, a person with RHD will have difficulty understanding the topic gist and the main idea of the topic. For instance, if a movie is about a freedom struggle, they will have difficulty grasping this idea.
  3. Jokes and sarcasm are not their strength. Understanding metaphorical meaning is a challenge.

Some more skills

  1. Social use of language – the technical term for this is pragmatics. In this, they may lack eye contact and poor turn-taking skills. Other skills related to conversation such as initiating a talk, maintaining that talk by commenting, or asking relevant questions will be affected. They face a challenge in understanding others’ emotions and body language. Particularly if the expression is through face and tone of voice. It is speculated that they lack a theory of mind similar to autistic individuals. In this, they may fail to see things from another person’s view. They may sound rude or inappropriate in certain situations. They may have poor word choice, topic or subject choice.
  2. The tone of speech – Formally known as ‘prosody’. This refers to stress on words, changes in tones, emphasis, volume, etc. For instance, if we are angry, we increase our volume. The intonation and stress change the meaning of words or sentences. In RHD, people can have difficulty adding appropriate stress or tone to the word or sentence. They may also have difficulty understanding the other person. This is technically called ‘Aprosodia’.


Speech Therapy is necessary for the person with RHD to improve their quality of life. Improvement depends on the severity and dedication of caregivers to practice at home. The major goal is to promote independence. It also helps in regaining lost skills. Early intervention results in a better prognosis.


In conclusion, RHD requires more research. But one certain thing is that speech therapy is crucial in such patients. If you know someone you care about who needs support related to RHD, you can contact us at 1specialplace and book an appointment to avail of our evidence-based speech therapy and begin your program.

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