what is aphasia?
Aphasia is an impairment in language following an injury to the brain, most commonly from a stroke in the left hemisphere.
There are different kinds of aphasia, but typically people have difficulty with both understanding language and in expressing themselves.
Sometimes a person is able to understand very well, but can't find the words to get their message across, and sometimes a person has severe difficulty in understanding what others are saying.
Aphasia can be very mild so that others might not be aware that the person has any difficulties or so severe as to make communication extremely difficult.
Reading and writing can be affected too.
Aphasia does not affect intelligence.
Aphasia is diagnosed and treated by speech and language therapists.
Having aphasia can be devastating and lead to a loss of confidence, depression and affect relationships with others.
With the right support however, people with aphasia can build their confidence and go on to lead full, rich and interesting lives.
If you or someone you know are affected by aphasia, it is best to seek the advice of a speech and language therapist.
Here are some tips for helping people with aphasia communicate and participate.
There are several charities that support people with aphasia and their families:
The evidence shows that people with aphasia are at higher risk of isolation and depression after stroke than stroke survivors without aphasia (Hilari, 2011). Friendships are often affected (Hilari & Northcott, 2011)
Many studies show that taking part in art activities or being part of an art group can help people who have had a stroke or suffer from aphasia (Beesley et al., 2011, Morris et al., 2014, Mumby & Whitworth, 2012, Reynolds, 2012, Sun-Hyun et al., 2008)
BEESLEY, K., WHITE, J. H., ALSTON, M. K., SWEETAPPLE, A. L. & POLLACK, M., 2011, Art after stroke: the qualitative experience of community dwelling stroke survivors in a group art programme, 23:(23-24) pp 2346-2355
GONEN, J & SOROKER, N, 2000, Art Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation: A Short-term Group Treatment The Arts in Psychotherapy 27:1, pp 41-50
HILARI, K., 2011, The impact of stroke on quality of life: are people with aphasia different to those without? Disability and Rehabilitation, 33:3, pp 211-218
HILARI, K. & NORTHCOTT, S., 2011, Why Do People Lose their Friends After Stroke?, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 46:5, pp 524-34
HORNE, J, LINCOLN, N. B., PRESTON, J. & LOGAN, P, 2014, What does confidence mean to people who have had a stroke? A qualitative interview study, Clinical Rehabilitation, 28:11, 1125-1135
MORRIS, J. H., KELLY, C., TOMA, M., KROLL, T, JOICE, S., MEAD, G., DONNAN, P. &
WILLIAMS, B., 2014, Feasibility study of the effects of art as a creative engagement during stroke rehabilitation on improvement of psychosocial outcomes: study protocol for a single blind randomized controlled trial: the ACES study, Trials Journal, 15:380, pp 1745-6215
MUMBY, K., & WHITWORTH, A., 2012, Evaluating the effectiveness of intervention in long-term aphasia post-stroke: the experience from CHANT (Communication Hub for Aphasia in North Tyneside), International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 47:4, pp 398-412
REYNOLDS, F., 2012, Art Therapy After Stroke: Evidence and a Need for Further Research The Arts in Psychotherapy 39, pp 239-244
SUN-HYUN KIM,MIN-YOUNG KIM, JAE HYUK-LEE & SAE IL-CHUN, 2008, Art Therapy
Outcomes in the Rehabilitation Treatment of a Stroke Patient: a Case Report Art Therapy:
Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 25:3, pp 129-133
Cat's masters study:
Cat Andrew, the therapist who runs Drawing for People with Aphasia completed a masters study looking at the potential benefits of learning observational drawing for people with aphasia:
This study looked at the benefits of learning observational drawing for people with aphasia. Results were variable, however there were improvements in semantic information-gathering, tasks of visual attention involving drawing, health-related quality of life and wider benefits for participants’ lives, indicating that this is a promising area for future research.