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Description of Aphasia
Description of Aphasia
There are various causes of acquired aphasia, including stroke, open head traumatic brain injury, encephalitis, and brain tumours. Stroke is the most common cause. 25-40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia – a reduction in the ability to express and understand language. People with aphasia may have difficulty with word finding and forming sentences, say things that don’t sound like real words, misunderstand what others say, have difficulty reading and writing, and have problems using gestures.
There are different types of aphasia. When acute damage occurs in the brain's cortex (e.g., stroke or traumatic brain injury), the following types of aphasia may result:
Watch a video of a gentleman with fluent aphasia here:
Watch videos of persons with nonfluent aphasia here:
Assessment serves to identify communication disorders (e.g., Broca’s aphasia), evaluate specific strengths and difficulties, inform treatment planning, and to make a prognosis about potential for improvement. Assessment for aphasia typically requires 2-4 hours depending on the purpose of the evaluation. Contact us to learn more and for our professional fees.
SLPs work with clients and other professionals to offer recommendations for more effective communication, strategies for coping with a communication disorder, and support with advocating for your needs and rights. For example, SLPs may consult with clients and other professionals about competence and capacity and supporting self-determination in end of life decisions.
The information below relates to adults with acquired aphasia such as from stroke or other acquired brain injury. Adults with primary progressive aphasia or cognitive-linguistic changes related to other degenerative neurological conditions can contact us for more information on services.
For more information specific to traumatic brain injury, please click here.
During the first year, people make gains most rapidly with treatment. People with chronic aphasia (>6-12 months after stroke), however, also demonstrate improvement with intervention (e.g., Allen et al., 2012). With treatment, people can achieve improved communication skills (e.g., Brady et al., 2016). Abilities that can be targeted in treatment include:
understanding of spoken language
reading and writing
use of strategies
attention and verbal memory
activities of daily living (eg. paying bills)
social interactions with friends and family
Treatment programming is planned based on the needs of the individual. It may involve restorative treatment that works on improving word finding, forming sentences, understanding what others say, verbal reasoning, reading, and writing. Treatment typically also involves development of compensatory strategies to support participation in daily life, and training of communication partners (e.g., spouses, children) in supportive techniques
Before starting therapy, a comprehensive assessment is completed. Measurement of progress is made throughout treatment.
We are also able to connect our clients with other professionals as needed for a more comprehensive program of intervention such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and psychology. These connections are made by referral with additional fees as set by the service provider.
While more intensive treatment is generally desirable, it is not a good fit for everybody (Brady et al., 2016). For this reason, Shoreline offers a variety of options for treatment intensity (Robey, 1998):
low intensity (1 – 1½ hours per week)
moderate intensity (2 – 3 hours per week)
intensive (5 – 8 hours per week)
Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Programs (ICAPS) in Canada
While Shoreline offers the option of intensive treatment programming, it is not an Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAPS), nor do we provide the same high-intensive dosage offered by such programs. For individuals interested in ICAPS, Canadian options include:
InteRACT – Intensive Residential Aphasia Communication Therapy (Halifax)
Intensive Treatment for Aphasia in Western Canada (ITAWC)
Treatment for aphasia can be provided remotely through telepractice. Shoreline's clinicians can provide treatment to people living anywhere in Nova Scotia or PEI. Telepractice requires that a client have a reliable internet connection, good quality audio and microphone, a webcam, and be able to operate the equipment at home (or have someone's assistance to do so). A trial with equipment can be conducted before committing to services.
Contact Shoreline for information.
Learn about our professional fees.
About Living with Aphasia
James Stephens with Radio New Zealand
James Stephens, author of "The Suspect Speaker" and "More Suspect Speaker" did an interview with Radio New Zealand in June 2022. In this interview he talks about his experience with aphasia and becoming an author.
"The Suspect Speaker: The frustrations and the blessings of life with aphasia" by James Stephens
"More Suspect Speaking: More of the frustrations and the blessings of life with aphasia" by James Stephens
"A Mind of My Own: Memoir of Recovery from Aphasia" by Harrianne Mills
"Aphasia: The Movie"
Information and Resources
Aphasia Institute (Toronto, Ontario)
Aphasia Etiquette (BBC)
NIDCD Fact Sheet - Aphasia
National Aphasia Association (USA)
Aphasia Nova Scotia
Dalhousie University Aphasia Group
References on This Page
Allen, L., Mehta, S., McClure, J., & Teasell, R. (2012). Therapeutic interventions for aphasia initiated more than six months post stroke: A review of the evidence.Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 19, 523-535. doi:10.1310/tsr1906-523
Brady, M. C., Kelly, H., Godwin, J., Enderby, P., & Campbell, P. (2016). Speech and language therapy for aphasia following stroke (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2016(6), 1-405. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000425.pub4
Robey, R. R. (1998). A meta-analysis of clinical outcomes in the treatment of aphasia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 172-187. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4101.172