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How aphasia affects your loved one's speech and understanding

  • Medical term

    Aphasia (a-FAY-zha) is a language problem.

    Aphasia means your loved one 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.

    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, does not mean he or she cannot 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 to make a sound (Sometimes they are hard to understand.)
    • speak mainly in jargon but do not know they are not speaking clearly
    • have trouble retrieving the right words they want to say
    • know the right words but cannot form them with their lips, tongue and teeth (may cause stuttering)
    • have problems understanding simple commands and more complex material
  • Source: Allina Health Patient EducationUnderstanding Stroke, fifth edition, neuro-ahc-90662
    Reviewed by: Allina Health Patient Education experts
    First published: 02/01/2006
    Last reviewed: 05/01/2018