Minnesota Stroke Association

Aphasia and Communication

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder caused by damage to the brain, most commonly from a stroke. People living with aphasia often experience difficulty in speaking, understanding speech, reading, writing and using numbers.

Although it impairs a person's ability to process language, it does not affect intelligence.

Aphasia is not like Alzheimer's disease; for people with aphasia it is the ability to access ideas and thoughts through language – not the ideas and thoughts themselves – that is disrupted.

Who acquires aphasia?

While aphasia is most common among older people, it can occur in people of all ages, races, nationalities and gender.

Can a person have aphasia without having a physical disability?

Yes, but many people with aphasia also have weakness or paralysis of their right leg and right arm. When a person acquires aphasia it is usually due to damage on the left side of the brain, which controls movements on the right side of the body.

How long does it take to recover from aphasia?

If the symptoms of aphasia last longer than two or three months after a stroke, a complete recovery is unlikely. However, it is important to note that some people continue to improve over a period of years and even decades.

People who are living with aphasia can find long-term support in their community to improve communication skills and how to act in social situations. Minnesota provides opportunities for people living with aphasia to come together through conversation groups.

Aphasia conversation groups are led by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) with expertise in aphasia. Meetings provide conversational and individualized support through peer support and community involvement, as well as opportunities for friendships and connections. In addition, it teaches communication strategies which help promote confidence and personal achievement in one's life.

Family support and understanding is a key factor during a stroke survivor’s recovery. When it comes to family education, Speech Language Pathologists can be important rehabilitation professionals. Leaders and volunteers help group members to actively participate in discussions using communication strategies including words, writing, drawing, and/or gestures.

Aphasia conversation groups are different than formal speech groups. Most groups are open ended and meet to discuss topics of interest to everyone.

Conversation groups help people cope with changes in their lives that occur after acquiring an injury or medical condition. Each group provides a supportive environment in which to share feelings, concerns, experiences, and hopes with others who may be in a similar situation. Groups are conducted on an ongoing basis.

Contact the Minnesota Stroke Association at 763-553-0088 or more information on conversation groups that may be in your area.