June marks the month for National Aphasia Awareness, a condition that impacts up to 40% of individuals who have a stroke.1
What is aphasia? According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), aphasia is a speech and language disorder caused by neurological damage. This damage can occur due to a stroke, the leading cause of aphasia, but the condition can also be the result of a brain tumor, traumatic brain injury, or progressive neurological diseases. It impacts how an individual speaks, listens, reads and writes.2
The impact of aphasia depends on where in the brain the neurological event has occurred, as well as the severity of the incident. In one individual, it may impact his/her ability to identify specific vocabulary in complex conversation with family and friends (i.e. word finding difficulties), while in another, he/she may be unable to answer yes/no questions appropriately or complete basic automatic tasks such as counting to 10.
Understanding the symptoms and characteristics of aphasia helps caregivers, friends, and family members better communicate with those impacted by the condition. The National Aphasia Association suggests the following when communicating with a person who has aphasia.3
- Have the person’s attention before you start and minimize/eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
- Keep your sentences simple and slow down your rate. However, still maintain an adult conversation.
- Resist the urge to finish his/her sentences and give them time to respond.
- Use other modes of communication to supplement verbal speech (drawings, pictures, objects, gestures) and use yes/no questions to check for understanding.
- Praise independence and attempts at communication. Get the individual involved in normal daily conversations/activities and avoid being overprotective.
Here at Live Your Life, we offer comprehensive speech-language therapy to better support individuals impacted by aphasia. Learn more about our speech therapy services here: http://www.liveyourlifept.com/physical-therapy-wellness-services/speech-therapy
Rachel Wieneke, M.A., CCC-SLP, graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2012 with a Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology and currently holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has experience in providing speech therapy to adolescents and adults, with increased focus in providing intervention for a receptive-expressive language, swallowing and cognition. Rachel is also certified in VitalStim Therapy which allows her to utilize neuromuscular electrical stimulation with her swallowing therapy.
As a therapist, Rachel values a patient centered approach and involves both the caregiver and patient when creating goals for intervention, as well as during her treatment sessions. She appreciates the relationships she builds with her patients and their families, as well as generalizing therapy to the home setting. Rachel believes that these aspects are vital in helping her patients succeed.
Rachel enjoys being outside with her husband and exploring the Twin Cities on their road bikes. She also enjoys spending time with both of their families, traveling, running and yoga.
1Bring Awareness to Aphasia in June. https://slpblog.aphasia.com/aphasia_awareness_month_2017. Accessed 9 June 2017.
2Aphasia. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Aphasia/. Accessed 9 June 2017.
3Communication Tips. http://www.aphasia.org/aphasia-resources/communication-tips/. Accessed 9 June 2017.