Signs, Symptoms and Aphasia Treatment
Stroke can leave severe consequences on a person’s health. Apart from weaknesses, vision difficulties, right-sided paralysis, and other acute conditions, stroke can cause aphasia, which includes problems with speech and understanding language.
Aphasia can also come as a result of severe head injury or a slow-growing brain tumor that triggers progressive and degenerative damage. Luckily, this condition can be treated using different approaches, including acupuncture.
Acupuncture has shown significant results in helping patients regain communication skills. Combined with adequate medications and therapies, it has delivered more than 77% of positive outcomes so far, which is remarkable.
The following post will provide more information about how acupuncture impacts the improvement of communication abilities, and how it helps people who deal with aphasia regain the skills they’ve lost.
What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is a condition caused by a stroke or severe head trauma. It manifests as an inability to speak, write, or understand the language, and it’s more common in older individuals.
Aphasia can vary from mild to severe stages, where patients are entirely unable to communicate with others. This condition usually affects a single aspect of language, including the ability to retrieve the names of objects, the ability to put words into a sentence, or the ability to write.
However, people with aphasia commonly have multiple communication aspects impaired, while some channels can provide a limited exchange of information.
There are six main types of aphasia:
- Broca’s aphasia (Expressive aphasia)
- Wernicke’s aphasia (Receptive aphasia)
- Global aphasia
- Anomic aphasia
- Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)
- Mixed non-fluent aphasia
This type of aphasia is also known as expressive or non-fluent aphasia. People who’re dealing with this condition struggle with saying the words, their sentences are quite short, and they tend to omit some words while speaking (“Drink water” or “Want eat”).
Although a listener can understand what they want to say, individuals with Broca’s aphasia are often aware of their communication difficulties, which is why they may get frustrated. They mostly suffer from right-sided paralysis or weaknesses.
Wernicke’s aphasia can also be found under the names of fluent or receptive inability to speak. Individuals diagnosed with this condition can speak fluently, using long and complex sentences that usually make no sense or include unnecessary and unrecognizable words.
They can’t understand spoken language, and they’re mostly unaware of the fact that the others can’t understand them. The Wernicke’s type arises due to the damage to the language network located in the middle left side of the brain.
Global aphasia is the most severe form of this condition, which means that the individuals who have it can neither read nor write but produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language.
This form is mostly perceived right after the stroke, and its progression depends on the extensiveness of the brain damage.
Anomic aphasia results in the patients’ inability to find the words they need to talk about a particular topic. They usually can’t think of significant nouns and verbs, which is why their writing and speech reflect frustration. Still, their discourse is grammatically fluent.
They are able to understand the speech very well, and their reading is quite decent.
Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)
Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is, unlike other condition types, caused by neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
PPA arises due to damage of the brain tissue, which is vital for speech and language. That way, language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired.
Mixed Non-Fluent Aphasia This type describes the patients whose speech is effortful, which resembles the Broca’s condition.
Still, unlike patients who suffer from the Broca’s, people with non-fluent types are limited in their understanding of speech, and their reading and writing can’t surpass the elementary level.
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What are the Most Common Aphasia Symptoms?
After a person’s had a stroke or some brain injury, they should pay attention to the following signs that could indicate the possibility of this condition. The troubles that may arise are mostly associated with talking, comprehension, reading, and writing.
Talking People may find it difficult to:
- Think of the word they want to say.
- Say the correct word (“desk” instead of “radio”).
- Say the word correctly (“wol” instead of “owl,” or made-up words).
- Say sentences; they find it easier to say single words.
- Compose correct sentences that make sense; patients will probably combine made-up words with the real ones, making the sentence difficult to understand.
Comprehension When it comes to an understanding, individuals may not be able to:
- Understand what other people say; it often happens when someone speaks fast and uses long sentences.
- Understand what someone says when it’s noisy or within a larger group of people.
- Understand jokes.
Reading and Writing Reading and writing can also be affected, which is why patients may have a problem with the following activities:
- Reading texts and books, especially when on computer screens.
- Spelling and putting words together to create a sentence.
- Using numbers and doing the math; patients will find it difficult to tell time, count money, or do mathematical operations.
What are the Most Frequent Aphasia Tests?
If you, your friend, family member, or someone else have noticed some of the symptoms mentioned above, you’re advised to do the necessary examinations to determine whether you have aphasia.
Some of the tests your doctor may include are related to your ability to perform the language skills. Namely, their testing will be based on:
- Your understanding of words, directions and stories.
- Your pronunciation the words and sentences; your doctor may ask you to name some objects, describe pictures and answer questions.
- Your reading and writing; your doctor may ask you to write letters, words and sentences, as well as to read some short stories and answer questions about them.
- Your ability to find other ways of sharing your ideas when you have trouble talking; for example, pointing, using gestures, or drawing pictures.
How to Treat Aphasia?
The treatment of patients with aphasia includes various options. After your doctor’s performed all the necessary examinations, including strength, feeling, and reflexes tests and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), he or she will be able to determine the right therapy for you.
If brain damage is not severe, a person may not need treatments to recover their language skills. However, if the injury has significantly affected a person’s ability to speak, he or she may go through a slow recovery process.
Some of the most common aphasia treatments include:
Acupuncture, a specific branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has been playing a significant role in stroke recovery for years. As a standalone therapy, acupuncture has provided 46% of positive results in treating patients with aphasia, while its combination with donepezil has helped more than 77% of people.
The acupuncture style that’s commonly used for aphasia treatment is scalp acupuncture, which represents a powerful combination of Eastern medicine and neurology. It’s performed by inserting small, solid and sterile needles into loose areolar tissue layers of the scalp in order to stimulate the brain neurons.
Although it seems intimidating to most people, scalp acupuncture is an entirely safe procedure – since the skull protects the brain, there are no organs in the scalp that could be injured with needles.
Many patients decide to implement scalp acupuncture for aphasia since it has delivered significant outcomes in helping people regain speech in all types and stages of this condition. By stimulating the brain cells that are related to the impaired functions, acupuncture impacts a healthy reintegration of the overall brain system.
The number of treatments will depend on a person – not everyone will need the same amount of time to recover, which is why it’s essential to be patient and persistent during the process.
A typical treatment lasts for one hour, and your aphasia specialist will probably recommend you come two to three times a week. The practitioner will monitor your progress and do the evaluations at each five treatment interval – that way, he or she can determine the future therapy course.
Many acupuncture practitioners will recommend moxibustion as an additional treatment. Moxibustion involves the burning of dried mugwort on particular body parts, and its combination with acupuncture is considered efficient for improving brain blood and oxygen supply to the brain parts that have been left with no oxygen.
Aphasia Speech Therapy
Speech therapy is one of the aphasia treatment activities that’s commonly recommended by doctors. Such therapies are an effective way of improving a person’s ability to communicate, restoring as much language as possible, and teaching them how to find other methods of communication that don’t include language.
According to many aphasia specialists, therapies give better results when they begin soon after the injury. Most therapies are performed in groups, where people can feel free to express themselves, initiate conversations, and practice the speech that has been affected by stroke or some other brain injuries.
Most contemporary approaches include the use of a computer or specialized software that can help patients regain language skills. Computer and software can significantly help people improve their communication abilities and mitigate other stroke symptoms that usually occur.
A specific group of drugs can also be effectively used as a treatment for aphasia. It is considered that dextroamphetamine, piracetam and donepezil can improve attention span and impact the learning and memory of patients that have gone through the ischemic stroke.
Combined with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, both drugs and speech therapies can deliver remarkable results. Even 77% of patients who tried acupuncture for aphasia after stroke noticed significant improvements in their communication abilities and language skills.
The results were not only based on patients’ subjective reports but also on MRI scans, which have proven the enhancement of particular brain areas affected by stroke or injuries.
How to Communicate with People with Aphasia? Aphasia can lead to many problems since it affects communication, one of the most critical aspects of our life. Accordingly, you should be aware of the fact that patients with such a condition often feel frustrated, embarrassed and depressed, which is why you should have in mind the following things:
- Get that person’s attention before you start talking
- Establish eye contact and watch their body language and gestures they use
- Avoid noisy and crowded places
- Do not talk loudly unless your friend asks you to
- Avoid the use of complicated words; still, don’t talk to your friend as if you were talking to a 3-year-old
- Use shorter sentences
- Slow down your normal speech
- Try not to finish their sentences for them but wait until they finish; it may take them longer, but you should be patient
- Use gestures, images, facial expressions, or writing
- If you see that your friend has trouble talking, ask him or her to write or draw the thing they want to explain
- Try to ask them “yes” and “no” questions, at least at the beginning; it’s usually easier for them to answer
- Even if your friend is making mistakes, don’t correct him/her
- Let them try to do the things by themselves and help them only if they ask you for it.
Patients are suggested to do the following things in order to facilitate communication:
- Carry a card that explains that you have aphasia and says more about what this condition is
- Carry information on how to contact others if you need them
- Make sure you have paper and a pencil all the time
- Don’t hesitate to use drawings, gestures, or photos to express yourself.
Makari Wellness – The Most Beneficial Treatments of Acupuncture for Stroke
Makari Wellness has been providing patients with the best acupuncture therapies for 15 years, achieving remarkable results in treating people with the most severe and degenerative diseases.
Traditional Chinese medicine, combined with the latest Western approaches, has proven its efficiency in stroke rehabilitation and post-stroke treatments. Patients with TBI, concussion, Alzheimer’s, aphasia, and other conditions have left our clinic with a smile on their faces, ready to come back to the delight of living happily and healthy.
Contact us at (888) 871-8889 and receive the best therapies of acupuncture San Diego can offer. Start your treatment as soon as possible and increase your chances of improvement!