N.S.Aphasia

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Aphasia is an impairment of language caused by damage to the language area of the brain, primarily Broca and Wernicke areas. Injury to the brain can be caused by various disease processes such as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain mass, or neurodegenerative diseases. Patients can develop symptoms that include difficulties articulating words or sentences, deficits of comprehension, or both. This activity highlights the evaluation and treatment of aphasia and outlines the role of the interprofessional team in the care of patients with this condition.

Objectives:

  • Identify the pathophysiology of aphasia.
  • Outline the typical presentation of each aphasia syndrome.

Introduction

Aphasia is an impairment of comprehension or formulation of language caused by damage to the cortical center for language. It can be caused by many different brain diseases and disorders; however, cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is the most common reason for a person to develop aphasia. The symptoms of aphasia can range from mild impairment to complete loss of any fundamental components of language such as semantic, grammar, phonology, morphology, and syntax.

The function of language is the ability to express and comprehend spoken and written words. The language area of the brain is typically located in the dominant hemisphere. These structures include Wernicke area, Broca area, and arcuate fasciculus.[1] The Wernicke area is located at the posterior end of the superior temporal gyrus. Its function is to process visual and auditory information, and it is the center for comprehension and planning of words. Broca area is located in the inferior frontal area and is the center for motor execution of speech and sentence formation.[2] Arcuate fasciculus is the neural pathway connecting Wernicke area to the Broca area.

Specific aphasia syndromes are dependent on the location of the lesion in the brain.[3] In fluent aphasia, the patient can speak in sentences that sound like normal speech, but some of the words are made-up words or have some sounds that are not correct. People with non-fluent aphasia struggle to get words out, omit words, and speak in very short sentences. Specific non-fluent aphasia syndromes include Broca, transcortical motor, mixed transcortical, and global. Fluent aphasia syndromes include Wernicke, transcortical sensory, conduction, and anomic.

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