Aphasia Awareness Month: A Message from Laura

June is Aphasia Awareness Month

Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke can have various communication effects, one of which is aphasia.  Aphasia is most often caused by strokes that occur in areas of the brain (usually in the left side of the brain) that control speech and language. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections. Aphasia does not affect intelligence. Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or impossible to understand. Communication helps us to be a person and to take part in life and all its opportunities.  

People with aphasia may find it difficult to:

  • take part in a conversation

  • talk in a group or noisy environment

  • read a book or magazine or road sign

  • understand or tell jokes

  • follow the television or radio

  • write a letter or fill in a form

  • use the telephone

  • use numbers and money

  • say their own name or the names of their family

  • express their immediate needs or ideas or words

  • go out

A Message from Laura

Friends and family living with aphasia may find it hard to know what to do to.  Here are some fabulous communication tips from Laura Cobb, a young woman who suffered a stroke at the age of 22 after being hit by a drunk driver, which resulted in aphasia. 

When trying to communicate with your loved one who has aphasia, try to remember to:

  • Make sure you have the person's attention before you start.

  • Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people)

  • Keep your own voice at a normal level, unless the person has indicated otherwise.

  • Keep communication simple, but adult.  Simplify your own sentence structure and reduce your rate of speech.

  • Give them time to speak.  Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.

  • Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions in addition to speech.

  •  Confirm that you are communicating successfully with "yes" and "no" questions.

Sources: American Heart Association/American Stroke AssociationNational Aphasia AssociationYouTube 

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