If the brain damage is mild, a person may recover language skills without treatment. However, most people undergo speech and language therapy to rehabilitate their language skills and supplement their communication experiences. Researchers are currently investigating the use of medications, alone or in combination with speech therapy, to help people with aphasia.
Speech and language rehabilitation
Recovery of language skills is usually a relatively slow process. Although most people make significant progress, few people regain full pre-injury communication levels.
For aphasia, speech and language therapy tries to improve the person's ability to communicate by restoring as much language as possible, teaching how to compensate for lost language skills and finding other methods of communicating.
- Starts early. Some studies have found that therapy is most effective when it begins soon after the brain injury.
- Often works in groups. In a group setting, people with aphasia can try out their communication skills in a safe environment. Participants can practice initiating conversations, speaking in turn, clarifying misunderstandings and fixing conversations that have completely broken down.
- May include use of computers. Using computer-assisted therapy can be especially helpful for relearning verbs and word sounds (phonemes).
Certain drugs are currently being studied for the treatment of aphasia. These include drugs that may improve blood flow to the brain, enhance the brain's recovery ability or help replace depleted chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters). Several medications, such as memantine (Namenda) and piracetam, have shown promise in small studies. But more research is needed before these treatments can be recommended.
March 21, 2015
- Clark DG. Approach to the patient with aphasia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
- Aphasia. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/function_and_dysfunction_of_the_cerebral_lobes/aphasia.html#v1034169. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
- Clark DG. Aphasia: Prognosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
- Aphasia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Aphasia.htm. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
- Aphasia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/Pages/aphasia.aspx. Accessed Feb. 26, 2015.