Aphasia is the complete loss of language communication due to damage to the language centers of the brain. Dysphasia refers to the partial loss of such communicative functions. We'll place dysphasia vs aphasia and learn the difference.
The term 'aphasia' is increasingly used to refer to all degrees of such language-loss, but it is important for us to understand the difference between the concepts. Indeed, the term 'aphasia' has been sub-divided into a number of different conditions.
It is the duty of a doctor to establish which condition a patient has by assessing their spoken, written and heard language skills.
Public awareness of the condition is very limited, given how widespread and serious it is.
There are four main types of aphasia: Broca's Aphasia, Wernicke's Aphasia, Anomic Aphasia and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), which, unlike the other three main strands, gets worse over time.
Broca's Aphasia manifests itself primarily in a person's inability to express themselves. It occurs when a particular part of the frontal lobe (known as Broca's Region after the doctor who discovered the condition) is damaged. Someone suffering from this condition will be able to understand written and spoken speech, but when they come to responding, whether through spoken or written means, they cannot use words in the same way.
The patient will express themselves in a very limited vocabulary and short bursts of speech. It should be noted that this is not linked to the person's intelligence. It is not that they simply have a very limited vocabulary, since they demonstrate the ability to understand written and spoken language. This is one element of Aphasia that needs to be understood: it does not affect intelligence, only the ability of the person to use language.
Wernicke's Aphasia affects not only the patient's ability to read and write, but their understanding of spoken language too. Sentences produced (either spoken or written) by someone with Wernicke's Aphasia will be unstructured and confusing.
Anomic Aphasia is a condition that leads to an inability to find the appropriate word when one is speaking or writing. This 'tip of the tongue' feeling leads to circuitous sentences that attempt to convey the intended meaning without the use of the desired word.
This appears most clearly in how the patient speaks, but can also be detected in written communication.
Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), unlike the other forms of Aphasia, gets progressively worse as it continues. Eventually, someone suffering from PPA will no longer be able to communicate using written or spoken language, and will not be able to comprehend written or spoken language.
Again, despite these debilitating symptoms, PPA does not affect a patient's intelligence, only their abilities to communicate.
Dysphasia vs aphasia may not require any treatment and all symptoms may disappear with no intervention, depending on the severity, and the type, of Aphasia exhibited.
Generally, a form of speech and language therapy will be used to treat Aphasia and Dysphasia. This can come in a variety of forms, that fit into two broad camps: impairment-based therapy, and communication-based therapy. The former seeks to 'repair' those areas of communication that are inactive, by encouraging the patient to re-discover those 'lost' words or phrases by which they used to communicate.
On the other hand, communication-based therapy focuses in on those abilities the patient has retained and, by harnessing them, seeks to find new alternative ways of communicating, rather than trying to regain those that have been lost.
Treatment usually takes the form of a combination of these two treatments, with a multitude of variants being practiced across the US and the world. One fascinating area of treatment is Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT), developed in Boston, which seeks to utilize the fact that many patients find it easier to 'sing words, rather than speak them'.
The reason for the effectiveness of this approach is not entirely clear, but MIT is currently the subject of exciting research, and has been shown to have beneficial affects.