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Aphasia-FAQ (updated April 2000)

What can you tell me about aphasia?

The following definition is from The Encyclopedia of Mental and Physical Handicaps (Tver and Tver, 1991):

The term aphasic is applied to a person who has had a total loss or lack of language function. Aphasia is only occasionally found in children; but when it is, its subjects are assigned to one of two major categories: either as expressive (motor) aphasic; or receptive (sensory) aphasic. The expressive aphasic: (1) understands but cannot express; (2) knows words but cannot negotiate them; (3) communicates by pulling, pointing, and gesturing; (4) repeats one or two known syllables; (5) evidences no muscular paralysis; (6) possesses adequate intelligence for speech implementation. The receptive aphasic: (1) lacks understanding of speech and ignores sounds; (2) hears at one moment, but not at the next; (3) may be confused with one who is deaf (the child exhibits the same characteristics); (4) has moderate loss of hearing and may tilt head toward the speaker; (5) displays a discrepancy between intelligence and ability to communicate.

(From www.aphasia.org/NAAfactsheet.html.)
What is aphasia? Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain— commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.

Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the person almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read. More commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some channels remain accessible for a limited exchange of information.

No medicine or drugs have been known to cure aphasia, as yet. Surgery is successful in those occasions where pressure from a brain tumor or a hematoma impacts a critical speech center. Surgery is not useful in cases of aphasia following a stroke, which represent the vast majority of instances. Speech therapy is often provided to persons with aphasia, but does not guarantee a "cure." The purpose of speech therapy is to help the patient to fully utilize remaining skills and to learn compensatory means of communication.

Following are links to related Internet resources and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of ERIC documents (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

  • In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
  • For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, service@edrs.com, or 1.800.443.ERIC. (no longer available)

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used


ED343299 EC300978
Beyond Workbooks: The Computer as a Treatment Supplement.
Dressler, Richard A.
Nov 1991
11p.; Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (Atlanta, GA, November 22-25, 1991).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Kentucky
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG92
Target Audience: Practitioners
This presentation describes the use of a computer-based stimulation program to allow aphasic patients to practice their language skills independent of the clinician, specifically in the home setting. The prototype computer program, called the Computerized Language Activity Resource Kit, uses the vocabulary found in the Language Activity Resource Kit, which is a collection of objects, pictures, photographs, words, and phrases for use in therapy with aphasic adults. The program includes visual comprehension, reading comprehension, and auditory comprehension tasks. It features: use of the Macintosh computer which is transportable and easy to set up; automatic loading and ejection of the disk when starting and ending the program; clinician controls for customizing the exercise; sequential recording of response accuracy, response delays, item analyses, and time factors; and use of digitized speech output. Informal assessment of patient reactions to the program have been favorable. Advantages in use of this program include the possibility of concurrent treatment of patients, extending treatment to patients who cannot travel to the speech clinic, and providing a low-cost type of service delivery.
Descriptors: Adult Education; Adults; *Aphasia; Computer Assisted Instruction; *Computer Oriented Programs; Computer Software; *Drills (Practice); *Home Programs; *Independent Study; *Language Acquisition; Microcomputers; Program Development; Rehabilitation; Speech Skills; Stimulation

EJ503214 FL524654
Assessing Spontaneous Language Abilities of Aphasic Speakers.
Edwards, Susan; Knott, Raymond
Language Testing, v11 n1 p49-64 1994
ISSN: 0265-5322
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP95
Reports on research to develop a descriptive framework capable of revealing relevant linguistic features of aphasic speech. Spontaneous speech samples collected from aphasic and normal speakers in dyadic conversational settings and from monologic picture descriptions are transcribed; lexical, phrasal and causal elements are coded and quantified.
Descriptors: *Aphasia; Communication Disorders; Data Analysis; Data Collection; Dialogs (Language); Language Research; Monologs; Predictive Validity; Research Methodology; Sampling; Scores; *Speech Communication; *Speech Impairments; *Speech Language Pathology; Tables (Data); Testing

EJ532466 EC614821
Treatment Efficacy: Aphasia.
Holland, Audrey L.; And Others
Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, v39 n5 pS27-S36 Oct 1996
Special Section: Supplement on Treatment Efficacy: Part I.
ISSN: 0022-4685
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJMAR97
Target Audience: Researchers
This article provides information on aphasia, including the incidence of aphasia; the effects of the disorder; the role of the speech-language pathologist; and the different types of treatment of aphasia. General studies of the efficacy of aphasia treatment are reviewed and a case study is included.
Descriptors: *Aphasia; Case Studies; *Incidence; Intervention; *Outcomes of Treatment; Program Effectiveness; Speech Language Pathology; *Speech Therapy; Staff Role
Identifiers: *Treatment Efficacy

ED380988 FL022685
Grammatical Complexity of Aphasic Speech.
Kukkonen, Pirkko
Aug 1993
9p.; In: Aulanko, R., Ed.; and Korpijaakko-Huuhka, A. M., Ed. Proceedings of the Third Congress of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association (Helsinki, Finland, August 9-11, 1993).
Available From: Department of Phonetics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 35, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland (FIM 50).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: Finland
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG95
Spoken narratives as a genre usually show literary stylistic features. Written/literary registers are characterized by lexical density whereas spoken/colloquial genres are characterized by the complex combination of simple clauses into clause complexes. It has been observed that when aiming at informationally dense speech, people often hesitate and even commit speech errors, possibly due to time constraints. The present study provides support for the role of processing constraints in explaining stylistic variation. Aphasic subjects often produce longer stories than normal, and the stories show typical failures in trying to produce lexically dense speech under heavy processing constraints. Contain 13 references.
Descriptors: *Aphasia; Foreign Countries; *Grammar; *Language Processing; Language Research; Language Variation; Linguistic Theory; Literary Genres; *Oral Language; Qualitative Research; *Speech Communication; Statistical Analysis; *Story Telling; Syntax

ED408312 TM026533
Test of Pragmatic Language: A Review and Critique.
Leyva, Collette
23 Jan 1997
10p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association (Austin, TX, January 23-25, 1997).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; Texas
Journal Announcement: RIEOCT97
The Test of Pragmatic Language (TOPL) is an individually administered instrument designed to assess pragmatic language skills that can be used with students in kindergarten through high school. It is more specifically intended for use with children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities, language delays, reading difficulties, or aphasia. It is said to provide information on six dimensions of pragmatic language: physical setting, audience, topic, purpose, visual- gestural cues, and abstraction. The 44-item test is accompanied by an examiner's manual, scoring materials, and the test-picture book. The normative sample consisted of 1,016 examinees from the United States (24 states) and Canada (1 province), representative with regard to sex, residence, race/ethnicity, geographic region, and age. Overall validity findings about the test have been acceptable, although limited by small sample size and some lack of information about student age or grade level. Previous reviews have generally supported the usefulness of the TOPL, although two reviewers have suggested that more information is needed to relate actual test items to the defined six areas, and one reviewed has pointed out some limitations in the applicability of the TOPL pictures to all students. The TOPL appears to be a tool to provide a profile of pragmatic or social language skills.
Descriptors: Adolescents; Adults; Children; *Communication Skills; Elementary Secondary Education; *Language Skills; *Learning Disabilities; Norms; Profiles; Sample Size; Test Construction; Test Reliability; *Test Use; Test Validity
Identifiers: *Test of Pragmatic Language

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