Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary of Terms

Aphasia Friendly
Changing the way we write and present information so people with aphasia can understand it.

Apraxia of Speech
AOS is a disruption in the planning, programming, and sequencing of deliberate movements of speech muscles to produce sounds and words for speech production. Therefore, these individuals have difficulties talking. It is not caused by weakness or paralysis of muscles. It is characterized by the loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements.

Broca's Aphasia
Inability to fluently express language. Speech is extremely poor. Writing is also affected. Those with Broca's aphasia typically have right-sided hemiplegia (paralysis). However, writing difficulty extends beyond simple motor co-ordination. Their language production through writing is similar to language production through speech.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder i.e. a change in the muscles involved in speech, caused by paralysis, weakness or in-coordination of the speech muscles as result of brain damage (Duffy, 1995).

Mutual Aid
Creates helping relationships where clients team to support each other.

A stroke occurs when, for some reason, blood is unable to reach a part of the brain (a blockage) or when there is excess bleeding (hemorrhaging). Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients.

Wernicke's Aphasia
Language is severely disorganized; sometimes sounds like a babble or jargon or word substitutions. ​

Frequently Asked Questions

"How do I recognize if a person has aphasia?"
Aphasia affects people in different ways. Reading and writing may be difficult or impossible. Someone with aphasia may have little or no speech; be unable to come up with the right words; mix up or use incoherent words or find it hard to understand what others are saying. All this can lead to misunderstandings. The person with aphasia may also be frustrated, angry or depressed because they cannot communicate.

"What type of brain injury causes aphasia?"
Language involves our ability to recognize and use words and sentences in both the spoken and written modalities.  Much of this capability resides in the left hemisphere of the brain, and when an individual has a stroke or other type of injury that affects the left side of the brain, it typically disrupts their ability to use language.  The exact location of the injured area in the left hemisphere will affect the type of aphasia the individual has.

"Does aphasia affect intelligence?"
Aphasia does not affect intelligence or social manners. People with aphasia still have their intelligence and creativity intact. They know what they want to say.

"How long does it take to recover speech?"
Each situation is different. No one can predict how much speech will be recovered. Speech recovery depends on the location and size of the brain injury, age, therapy and motivation. Some people do not recover speech, likely due to the size and location of their injury. Others continue to improve slowly for many years.

"What can I do to help someone with aphasia?"
You can use supportive communication strategies to help the person with aphasia have a meaningful conversation. It is important to reinforce and encourage all means of expression -- gestures, pointing, facial expressions, drawing, communication book/board, speech, and writing -- to communicate.

“My husband and I seem to have frequent misunderstandings. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Aphasia might make it hard for your husband to understand you when you speak. Aphasia does not affect your husband’s intelligence or social manners. He might be nodding his head when you are talking because he wants to be sociable and mannerly, even though he doesn’t understand you. This might make you think he understands when he does not. It will help if you use communication strategies to verify your husband understands you and vice versa.

“My sister does not want to do anything because she is tired. Should I force her or just follow her pace?”
Stroke and brain injury survivors – including people with aphasia – often tire easily. Try to spread appointments and outings throughout the week and organize them for times when the person has the most energy. Social gatherings with a lot of people are very challenging. Try to arrange for only a few visitors at a time, over short periods of time.

“My wife seems depressed. What should I do?” 
Aphasia affects one’s feelings of self-worth. Communication problems, social isolation, loss of control, job loss, changes in family roles are some factors which can contribute to depression. If you suspect that your spouse may be depressed you should talk with a family doctor. An assessment can also be arranged with a psychiatrist or psycho-geriatrician at your local hospital. Anti-depressant medications may be prescribed.

“My friend often cries or laughs inappropriately. Is there anything I can do?” 
Sometimes stroke and brain injury survivors cry because they are depressed. Excessive crying or laughter may also be due to brain injury and isn’t necessarily connected with a sad event. Try to divert the person’s attention to another topic or activity; this may help them regain control of their emotions.

"As a caregiver, may I attend the program as well?" 
Typically caregivers are part of the group for the first 1-2 visits to help their loved ones transition into the group and feel comfortable. The program has been designed for clients to help increase their independence, enhance their communication skills in a safe and non- judgmental environment, and provide a social outlet with peers who understand what they are going through. We encourage caregivers to take some time to themselves while their loved one is at the program. However, there are sometimes reasons that caregivers may want to attend the program, for example to learn supportive communication strategies or to provide specialized assistance to their loved one. In such cases, caregivers are welcome to join us at the program.

"Do you have any additional groups for caregivers?" 
Yes, we currently run Caregiver Groups at our Newmarket and Peterborough sites. In these groups we discuss the experience of being a caregiver, including the challenges we face and what we have learned. We also share our experiences of the common symptoms, behaviour, emotions, and COMMUNICATION challenges following brain injury/illness as well as coping strategies for living with aphasia and related communication disabilities. Problem solving strategies and coping strategies are also shared in a safe and supportive environment.  

Voices of Aphasia videosWatch the short video series "Voices of Aphasia" from the National Aphasia Association. 


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