Getting the words out

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, a time to learn about brain disorders related to language.

Aphasia often occurs suddenly, following a stroke, head injury or infection. More rarely it develops over time, as with brain tumors or neurological diseases.

Aphasia impairs the expression and understanding of spoken language, reading and writing. There are many different types.

The two major categories are fluent and nonfluent.

Wernicke’s aphasia is the most common of the fluent type. It causes people to speak in long, complete sentences that have no meaning. Sufferers may add unnecessary words and create made-up ones.

The most common of the nonfluent type is Broca’s aphasia. People with this disorder may understand speech and know what they want to say but may speak in short phrases produced with great effort, often omitting small words.

Aphasia is diagnosed by a physician, and patients are often referred to a speech-language pathologist. A person’s ability to speak, express ideas, communicate socially, understand language, read and write are all examined in detail.

Perhaps the most well-known person to receive the diagnosis is “Die Hard” actor Bruce Willis.

The National Institutes of Health website and USPS Wellness LiteBlue page have additional information.

This information should not be construed as medical advice. Individuals should always consult with their doctor.