LCHM Summer 2017 - 12

Aphasia
FEATURE

A HIDDEN DISABILITY
BY SHANNON REIDNAUER, MS, CCC-SLP/L
GOOD SHEPHERD REHABILITATION NETWORK

M

ost of us take the ability to comIn addition to difficulties with listening,
municate for granted. But for those reading, speaking and/or writing, aphasia
with aphasia, the basic process of can cause other problems. Someone with
understanding others and com- aphasia also may have trouble thinking
municating their ideas becomes challenging and remembering things, managing time,
and frustrating. A language impairment that paying attention and remembering details.
makes it hard to produce or understand speech, Even though aphasia makes it harder to
read or write, aphasia occurs when the language understand and produce language, it does
centers of the brain are damaged, most often by not impact intelligence.
a stroke. Unlike other speech disorders, aphasia
is an acquired, not congenital, disorder that may
There are two broad types of aphasia -
also be the result of brain surgery, brain infections, receptive and expressive. Individuals with
traumatic brain injuries or other neurological receptive aphasia typically have difficulty
diseases, including dementia. 
with receiving or understanding language,
while individuals with expressive aphasia
An estimated 80,000 new cases of aphasia are typically have difficulty producing language.
diagnosed in the United States each year, with There are some individuals who show signs
approximately 1 million people suffering from of both expressive and receptive aphasia at
the affliction today. The effects of aphasia are the same time.
difficult to predict and usually depend on the
severity of the language impairment and the level
The most common type of receptive aphasia
of brain damage. Aphasia can be so severe as to is Wernicke's aphasia. People with Wernicke's
make communication with the patient almost aphasia have a normal pattern and rate of
impossible or so mild that is it barely noticeable. speech, but the content of their speech is
meaningless. They may say something like,
Aphasia is a hidden disability, with no obvious "Ambition is very very and determined."
outward signs, but someone with aphasia may Someone with Wernicke's aphasia can produce
do one or more of the following:
speech, but their speech generally includes
- Speak in short or incomplete sentences reduced amounts of information. Individuals
- Speak in a way that does not make sense with Wernicke's aphasia become frustrated
- Substitute one word for another or one
because they do not comprehend why they
sound for another
cannot understand others and why others
- Speak words that no one else recognizes cannot understand them.
- Not understand other people's
conversation
The most common type of expressive
- Write sentences that others do not
aphasia is Broca's aphasia. While a perunderstand
son with Wernicke's aphasia has difficulty
12 Lehigh County Health & Medicine | SUMMER 2017

understanding language, a person with Broca's
aphasia will primarily have trouble producing
language. Someone with Broca's aphasia will
often present with slow, choppy speech that
consists primarily of nouns and often convey
more information than the "empty" speech
of someone with Wernicke's. A phrase like
"Book book table two" is typical for someone
with Broca's.
When either of these impairments occurs,
speech language therapy will be a crucial part
of the recovery process. At Good Shepherd
Rehabilitation Network, speech language
pathologists work with patients and their
families to find techniques that maximize
communication for successful participation at
home, work and in the community. Therapy
may include working on language skills, using
computer-based programs, and using low- and
high-tech communication devices as well as
conversation training and modeling.
Once Good Shepherd patients have completed their individual rehabilitation program
in speech therapy, they can participate in a
weekly communication skills group. The
group is led by a dynamic and energetic
speech language pathologist who supports
ongoing education and participation.
Shannon Reidnauer has worked at Good Shepherd
Rehabilitation Network for 13 years as both
an inpatient and outpatient speech language
pathologist.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Summer 2017

LCHM Summer 2017 - 1
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