What is aphasia
1. The most important things in a nutshell
Aphasia is an acquired one Speech disorderthat can occur after brain damage, e.g. after a stroke or traumatic brain injury or in the case of a brain tumor. This affects speaking and language understanding, but also reading, writing, gestures and facial expressions. Various therapies and the right way to deal with those affected can reduce the disturbances. Understanding the aphasia makes it easier for family members to patiently support the patient.
Aphasia is a relatively complex disorder because speaking and understanding develop out of different processes. There are different classifications to describe aphasia. The most common is the "Aachen" classification, which tests the following skills (Aachen aphasia test AAT):
- Spontaneous speech
- Understanding of language
- Word finding
With the help of this test, the form and severity of aphasia can be determined. The following forms of aphasia are distinguished:
- Global aphasia: In this most severe form of aphasia, speech production and comprehension are severely impaired, reading and writing are hardly possible. The person concerned can only speak parts of words and often strings meaningless syllables, e.g. "tatatata", or automated phrases, e.g. "ohgott ohgott" (stereotypical vocalizations).
- Broca's aphasia (motor aphasia): Speech production is impaired here more than speech comprehension. The Broca aphasic person often speaks laboriously, hesitantly and with many pauses in speaking. The language is grammatically distorted and can be reminiscent of the style of telegrams. This is also reflected in reading and writing.
- Wernicke aphasia (sensory aphasia): The focus here is on the impairment of speech understanding. Speech production is normal and the language is fluent, but many of those affected do not succeed in clearly communicating their thoughts using language (incomprehensible gibberish). Word and sound mix-ups, word creations and incorrect and nested sentence structures are common.
- Amnesic aphasia: In this easiest form, the person concerned often does not find the right word, often there are slightly different word replacements, paraphrases or phonetic deviations (word finding disorder). The language comprehension, the spontaneous speech as well as the ability to read and write are preserved.
In addition to these 4 best-known forms of aphasia, there are other special forms, e.g. transcortical aphasia or conduction aphasia, and non-classifiable aphasia.
Speech therapy is standard in the treatment of aphasia. Computer programs are also being used more and more frequently, with which patients, for example, assign images and terms to one another, add sentences or repeat given words and sentences. The advantage is that electronic media are always available and therefore smaller exercise units are possible every day, several times if possible, even without a visit to the practice.
Music therapy primarily relates to language skills, but it can also serve to alleviate the consequences of aphasia, e.g. psychological stress. More information from the German Music Therapy Society at www.musiktherapie.de> Arbeitsfelder> Neurologische Reha.
4. Dealing with those affected
The following tips for relatives make it easier to deal with aphasic people and to understand each other.
4.1. Calm and patience
- Aphasic people need more time to speak.
- Wait for longer breaks.
- Do not put the patient under pressure.
- As a conversation partner, do not help out with words and do not steer the conversation too much in your own direction.
- Take patients seriously, they have no intelligence deficits
- Pay attention to the content, not the form.
- Do not interrupt the patient.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Avoid background noise and conversations with multiple people.
- If, despite the greatest effort, you cannot formulate a thought, do not push yourself, but try again later in peace.
4.2. Listen and think along
- When the aphasic asks for help, offer a keyword and see if it is correct.
- Words can sometimes be replaced by non-verbal signals, gestures, facial expressions or showing pictures. Aphasia sufferers can develop a wide range here to compensate for the loss of speech.
- Trying to figure out what a statement might be referring to. Sometimes "inappropriate" words still lead to the goal.
- Asking yes-no questions.
4.3. Everyday activities
Aphasic patients should be included in as many everyday activities as possible, e.g. household chores, visits to mutual friends, excursions. A hobby in which language skills do not play a role, e.g. painting, is helpful.
5. Who can help?
The Federal Association for the Rehabilitation of Aphasia - Federal Association of Aphasia - offers a lot of information and dates for those affected and their relatives at www.aphasiker.de. Aphasi centers on site can carry out individual consultations, contacts at https://aphasiker.de> Relatives and Affected> Aphasia Centers.
6. Related links
traumatic brain injury
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