What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a complex language and communication disorder resulting from damage to the language centres of the brain. This damage may be caused by:

  • a stroke
  • a head injury
  • a brain tumour
  • another neurological illness.

While stroke isn't the only cause of aphasia, it's by far the biggest. Around a third of people who have a stroke will experience aphasia. We estimate there are more than 350,000 people with aphasia in the UK.

Some people may refer to aphasia as dysphasia. The former is the medical term for full loss of language, while dysphasia stands for partial loss of languageThe word aphasia is now commonly used to describe both conditions.

Effects of aphasia

With thanks to the Band Trust.

If you have aphasia you may have difficulty with:

  • speaking (expressive aphasia)
  • reading
  • writing
  • understanding (receptive aphasia)
  • using numbers
  • dealing with money
  • telling the time.

It doesn't affect intelligence as people with aphasia still think in the same way but are unable to communicate their thoughts easily.

Aphasia will affect people in different ways and no two people will have exactly the same difficulties.

Ron Henshall had no words after his stroke. While in hospital he remembers hearing the doctor say he was not eating. He couldn't explain that he was asleep so they were taking his food away. He also finds it challenging to teach the piano because he knows how to play but can't always explain it. Ron said:

"At the beginning, I had no words in my mind but I felt calm and peaceful when I was meditating. I got very frustrated when my words started to return but I could not express them. Now I do what I can but people need to really listen."

Stroke Association and Speakability merger

In April 2015 we joined forces with national aphasia charity Speakability (Action for Dysphasic Adults) to ensure that more people across the UK living with aphasia receive vital support.

If you have any questions about the merger, please call Melanie Derbyshire on 020 7566 1516.