What is Aphasia? 84% of people have never heard of the cognitive disorder

Aphasia Awareness Month
According to Aphasia Access, a person is diagnosed with aphasia every 4 minutes in the United...
According to Aphasia Access, a person is diagnosed with aphasia every 4 minutes in the United States.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Aphasia, it affects more people than Parkinson’s and Cerebral Palsy, but according to the National Aphasia Association, 84% of people have never even heard the term aphasia.

“She pulled out a hammer and I had to say the name of it, but I could not and it frustrated me,” Brian Handly said.

This was the first sign that Handly had developed aphasia.

“How something simple as a hammer that I could not do. Or she’d bring out a pencil and I couldn’t name a pencil,” Handly said. “I know, I knew what it was I just got, you know it was, but I could not say it at all, and I was frustrated.”

Aphasia is a communication disability that occurs after some type of brain injury and impacts all modalities of language- speaking, understanding, reading, and writing.

“So people with aphasia are smart, they’re just as smart as they were before the injury, they just have trouble accessing the language to communicate those ideas to other people,” Azios said.

Handly said it can be frustrating to not be able to communicate like he used to. Especially in everyday situations like ordering food, or even spending time with his grandchildren.

“My four year old he, she, there’s one of the examples of my aphasia, she is a she but I keep saying he,” Handly said.

According to Aphasia Access, a person is diagnosed with aphasia every 4 minutes in the United States.

In light of Aphasia Awareness month, Lamar Associate Professor Jamie Azios wanted to take this time to share how common the cognitive disorder is, and the best ways to interact with people who have it.

“If there’s one thing that people with aphasia have told us over and over again is that if you meet a person with aphasia, please be patient. Give time for that interaction and know that that person is smart and they know what they want to say, it’s just going to take them a little bit of extra time, so please be patient,” Azios said.

Handly has access to therapy through Lamar University, and said it has had a huge impact on his life. He has become involved in group therapy, which he said has also helped him and the others he surrounds himself with.

Lamar has a goal to work with their aphasia clients on real life activities, which Azios said can differ from each person.

Lamar University Aphasia Conversation Lab has some important facts about aphasia:

  • About 1/3 or 225,000 of strokes result in aphasia.
  • Aphasia affects more people than several other prevalent disorders, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.
  • There are 2,00,000 people in the US with aphasia.
  • There is no medical “cure” for aphasia but most people improve over time, particularly if speech therapy is involved.
  • Intelligence is not affected by aphasia.

To view a list of aphasia resources from the National Aphasia Association in the state, CLICK HERE.

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