June is Aphasia Awareness Month. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately one million people in the United States suffer from aphasia. Unless you know one of these individuals, however, you may not have any idea what it is.
Simply put, aphasia is impaired expression or comprehension of written or spoken language. It is caused by damage to parts of the brain’s left hemisphere that involve processing language, often as the result of a stroke.
“It is important to note that aphasia does not affect intelligence,” says Shawnna English, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist at Sheltering Arms. “A person may have difficulty finding words, expressing an idea, or understanding what is being said, but it is crucial to continue actively engaging him or her in conversation and activities.”
As with all areas of rehabilitation, technology is helping to make treatment of aphasia more interactive and exciting than ever before. For instance, with tablet technology speech-language pathologists use a variety of apps to challenge and improve word identification and comprehension skills. Research shows that speech can continue to improve years after acquiring aphasia because of the brain’s remarkable ability to “relearn” functions through rehabilitation.
This month, we recognize our patients and all individuals working to overcome the effects of aphasia, and the therapists who help them!