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How aphasia affects your loved one's speech and understanding

Aphasia means the stroke survivor has problems understanding language and speaking. He or she may be unable to find the right words or put sentences together.

Not all strokes cause aphasia.

Effects of stroke

Left-sided stroke: Aphasia and language apraxia
The left side of the brain controls the ability to speak and understand language in most people.

About 20 percent of stroke survivors have a loss of speech and language. This means your loved one's brain may have problems with:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • reading
  • writing
  • dealing with numbers.

Just because your loved one has problems using language, doesn't mean he or she can't think clearly. Most people know what they want to say, they just have trouble putting their thoughts into words. It's like when you have a word "on the tip of your tongue."

Some people with aphasia:

  • are unable to use nouns or verbs while others have trouble with little words like the and of
  • speak easily while others struggle make a sound (Sometimes they are hard to understand.)
  • speak mainly in jargon but don't know they are not speaking clearly
  • have trouble retrieving the right words they want to say
  • know the right words but can't form them with their lips, tongue and teeth
  • have problems understanding simple commands and more complex material.


Source: Allina Patient Education, Understanding Stroke: Information about Stroke and Recovery, fourth edition, ISBN 1-931876-13-4

First published: 02/01/2006
Last updated: 12/09/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts