To support Aphasia Awareness Month 2023, we released a documentary film about aphasia. The film follows a group of stroke survivors with aphasia as they embark on a journey to find their voice and rebuild their lives. Watch the film: When the Words Away Went.
Common types of aphasia
There are several different types of aphasia, which affect people in different ways.
The most common types of aphasia are:
Broca's aphasia (non-fluent aphasia)
Broca's aphasia or expressive aphasia is when people find it very difficult to find and say the right words, although they probably know exactly what they want to say.
People with Broca's aphasia may only be able to say single words or very short sentences, although it's usually possible for other people to understand what they mean. This can be very frustrating.
The features of Broca's aphasia are:
Severely reduced speech, often limited to short utterances of less than four words.
Clumsy formation of sounds.
Wernicke's aphasia (fluent aphasia)
Wernicke's aphasia or receptive aphasia is when someone is able to speak well and use long sentences, but what they say may not make sense. They may not know that what they're saying is wrong, so may get frustrated when people don't understand them.
The features of Wernicke's aphasia are:
Impaired reading and writing.
An inability to grasp the meaning of spoken words (producing connected speech is not affected).
An inability to produce sentences that hang together.
The features of anomic aphasia are:
An inability to supply the words for the very things the person wants to talk about, particularly the significant nouns and verbs.
Speech that's full of vague expressions of frustration.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA)
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a condition where language capabilities become slowly and progressively worse, leading to a gradual loss of the ability to:
Understand what other people are saying.
Deterioration can happen slowly, over a period of years. Other mental functions such as memory, reasoning, insight and judgement are not usually affected.
It's important to get an accurate diagnosis for PPA. This is to rule out other degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease where language and memory and reason are affected.