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Expressive Aphasia Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Expressive Aphasia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
  • Jan 10, 2024
  • S&L Therapy

Expressive Aphasia Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Expressive aphasia is a language disorder that affects your ability to produce spoken and written language. It is also known as expressive aphasia or Broca’s aphasia. It is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls the production of language, usually due to stroke, brain injury, or disease. Expressive aphasia can have a significant impact on your communication skills and quality of life. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can improve your language abilities and regain your confidence. In this article, we will explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for expressive aphasia about this condition.

Causes Of Expressive Aphasia

Expressive aphasia is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls the production of language, called Broca’s area. This area is usually located in the left side of the brain. The most common cause of expressive aphasia is stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Other possible causes include traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, infection, or degenerative disease.

Symptoms of Expressive Aphasia

The main symptom of expressive aphasia is difficulty in speaking or writing. People with expressive aphasia may:

  • 1. Speak in short phrases or single words: This means that the person with expressive aphasia has trouble forming complete sentences or expressing complex thoughts. They may only be able to say a few words at a time, or use simple phrases, such as “yes”, “no”, or “I want”.
  • 2. Leave out small words, such as articles or prepositions: This means that the person with expressive aphasia omits some of the words that are necessary for grammatical correctness or clarity. They may skip words like “the”, “a”, “of”, or “to”, which can make their speech sound incomplete or vague.
  • 3. Use incorrect words or sounds, such as “spoon” for “fork” or “tish” for “fish”: This means that the person with expressive aphasia confuses or substitutes some of the words or sounds that they want to say. They may use a word that sounds similar but has a different meaning, such as “spoon” for “fork”, or a word that is related but not specific, such as “animal” for “dog”. They may also produce sounds that are not actual words, such as “tish” for “fish”, or “buh” for “book”.
  • 4. Struggle to find the right word for something, or use a general term, such as “thing” or “that”: This means that the person with expressive aphasia has difficulty retrieving the word that matches their intended meaning. They may pause, repeat, or hesitate before saying a word, or give up and use a general term, such as “thing” or “that”, to refer to something. They may also use gestures or point to objects to help them communicate.
  • 5. Have trouble with grammar, such as verb tenses or word order: This means that the person with expressive aphasia makes errors in the structure or rules of language. They may use the wrong verb tense, such as “I go” instead of “I went”, or the wrong word order, such as “book read I” instead of “I read the book”. They may also mix up the subject and the object, such as “she hit me” instead of “I hit her”.
  • 6. Have difficulty with reading aloud or writing: This means that the person with expressive aphasia has problems with producing written language as well as spoken language. They may have trouble reading words or sentences out loud, or writing words or sentences on paper or on a device. They may make spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes, or write words that do not make sense.
  • 7. Be aware of their mistakes and frustrated by their communication difficulties: This means that the person with expressive aphasia knows that they are not able to communicate as well as they used to, and feels upset or angry about it. They may try to correct themselves, apologize, or avoid talking. They may also feel embarrassed, isolated, or depressed.

Expressive aphasia does not affect the ability to understand spoken or written language, unless there is damage to other parts of the brain as well. However, people with expressive aphasia may have problems with following directions, such as left and right, or with arithmetic.

How is expressive aphasia diagnosed?

Expressive aphasia is diagnosed by a speech and language therapist, who will assess the person’s speech, language, and communication skills. The therapist will ask the person to perform various tasks, such as:

  • 1. Naming objects, pictures, or actions: This means that the therapist will show the person some objects, pictures, or actions, and ask them to say or write what they are. For example, the therapist may show a picture of a dog and ask the person to name it. This task tests the person’s ability to recall and produce words that match their meaning.
  • 2. Repeating words or sentences: This means that the therapist will say or write some words or sentences, and ask the person to repeat them exactly. For example, the therapist may say “The sky is blue” and ask the person to say it back. This task tests the person’s ability to produce speech or writing that is accurate and fluent.
  • 3. Answering questions or following commands: This means that the therapist will ask the person some questions or give them some commands, and ask them to respond or do what they are told. For example, the therapist may ask “What is your name?” or say “Touch your nose”. This task tests the person’s ability to understand and produce language that is relevant and appropriate.
  • 4. Reading or writing sentences or paragraphs: This means that the therapist will give the person some written material, such as a sentence or a paragraph, and ask them to read it aloud or write it down. For example, the therapist may give the person a paragraph from a newspaper and ask them to read it or copy it. This task tests the person’s ability to produce written language that is coherent and grammatical.

The therapist will also evaluate the person’s level of awareness, motivation, and emotional state. Based on the results, the therapist will determine the type and severity of aphasia, and recommend the best treatment options.

How is expressive aphasia treated?

The main treatment for expressive aphasia is speech and language therapy, which aims to improve the person’s ability to communicate effectively. The therapy may involve:

  • 1. Exercises to practice speaking, writing, or gesturing: These are activities that aim to strengthen the person’s ability to produce language, either verbally, in writing, or with body movements. They may involve repeating words, sentences, or sounds, writing words or sentences, or using gestures to convey meaning. The exercises may vary depending on the person’s level of difficulty and goals
  • 2. Strategies to use alternative forms of communication, such as pictures, symbols, or devices: These are methods that help the person communicate when speech or writing is not sufficient or possible. They may include using pictures, symbols, or diagrams to point at, using communication boards or books, or using electronic devices that can generate speech or text. The strategies may depend on the person’s preferences and needs
  • 3. Techniques to enhance comprehension and memory: These are ways to help the person understand what others say or write, and to remember information. They may include asking for clarification, repetition, or simplification, using written cues or notes, or using memory aids such as calendars, lists, or reminders. The techniques may vary depending on the person’s level of comprehension and memory
  • 4. Activities to stimulate the brain and promote recovery: These are tasks that challenge the person’s cognitive and linguistic abilities and encourage neural plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize and adapt after injury. They may include puzzles, games, reading, or music. The activities may be tailored to the person’s interests and abilities
  • 5. Education and support for the person and their family or caregivers: These are resources that provide information, guidance, and emotional support for the person with expressive aphasia and their loved ones. They may include books, websites, support groups, or counselling. The education and support may help the person and their family cope with the challenges and changes caused by expressive aphasia

The therapy may be individual or group-based, depending on the person’s needs and preferences. The therapy may also be integrated with other rehabilitation services, such as speech therapy, physiotherapy, or psychology.

The duration and outcome of the therapy may vary depending on the cause, extent, and location of the brain damage, as well as the person’s age, health, and motivation. Some people may recover fully or partially, while others may have permanent impairments.

What is the difference between Aphasia, Dysarthria and Apraxia of Speech?

Aphasia, dysarthria and apraxia of speech are all terms that describe communication disorders caused by brain damage. However, they have different meanings and implications.

  • Aphasia Is a language disorder caused by injury or damage to the language regions of the brain, usually located in the left hemisphere. Aphasia can cause difficulties with speaking, understanding, reading and writing. Aphasia can be classified into different types such as expressive or Broca’s type, receptive, global and mixed aphasia.
  • Dysarthria Is a motor speech disorder caused by muscle weakness and incoordination of the muscles involved in speech. Dysarthria can affect quality, volume and clarity of speech . Dysarthria can also be classified into different types such as flaccid, spastic, ataxic and hypokinetic.
  • Apraxia of Speech: Is a motor planning speech disorder also caused by brain damage. Apraxia involves difficulty with planning and coordinating movements required for speech, without the presence of muscle weakness

It is possible to have more than one of these conditions at the same time, depending on the location and extent of the brain damage. For example, a person may have both expressive aphasia and dysarthria, which means they have trouble producing both language and speech.

Conclusion

Expressive aphasia is a challenging condition that affects your ability to express yourself through speech or writing. However, it does not affect your intelligence, personality, or potential. With the right support and guidance, you can overcome the obstacles and improve your communication skills. In this article, we have covered the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for expressive aphasia, and answered some of the most common questions about this condition.

We hope you have found this article informative and helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you need professional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at S&L Therapy London. We are a team of dedicated and compassionate speech and language therapists who can provide you with personalized and effective therapy.