A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

Every year, about 795,000 people have a stroke. Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. 

What is aphasia?

During National Aphasia Awareness Month in June, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association focuses on public education about aphasia and those living with the disorder. For helpful resources, visit stroke.org.


Aphasia is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. It’s most often caused by strokes in the left side of the brain that control speech and language. Aphasia affects about two million Americans and is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy. Nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year.

People with aphasia may struggle with communicating in daily activities at home, socially or at work. Aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence. Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or hard to understand.

They may have:

  • Difficulty getting the words out
  • Trouble finding words
  • Difficulty understanding what others are saying
  • Problems with reading, writing or math
  • Trouble with long and/or uncommon words

Communicating with someone with aphasia

  • Keep it simple: Speak in short, simple sentences.
  • Be patient: Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the person who has aphasia, not for him or her.
  • Remove distractions: Turn off radios and TVs.
  • Be creative: Try writing, gesturing, drawing pictures or using devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  • Confirm: Repeat back what you think the person said or meant.

How does it feel to have aphasia?

People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can’t speak as well as they could before their stroke, they can’t understand others the way they once could or both. Aphasia often plunges alert, intelligent people into a world of jumbled communication. They may act differently because of changes in their brain. Ex.  “Put the car in the garage” might come out like “put the train in the house” or “widdle tee car ung sender plissen.”

Types of aphasia

  • Global aphasia: People with this aphasia have a severe impairment in both forming and understanding words and sentences.

  • Broca’s aphasia: With this condition, speech is halting and difficult, marked by problems with grammar such as dropped words and sometimes impaired comprehension.

  • Wernicke’s aphasia: People with this aphasia often string together meaningless words that only sound like a sentence, and have difficulty understanding others’ speech.

Speech-language pathology and aphasia

Speech therapists for aphasia can help patients regain some communication abilities as well as learn new ones. They  can also help with language therapy, teach non-verbal communication skills, and help family members adapt to new forms of communication. 

If you or your loved one is experiencing difficulty with aphasia and communication, speech-language pathologists are valuable resources to help guide you in finding evaluation and treatment options. Restore Outpatient’s focus on Wellness facilitates a better quality of life for its clients. If you have any questions about stroke or aphasia, contact us!

For more information and aphasia resources, visit stroke.org/aphasia