can cause some
degree of physical
disability, such as paralysis
and weakness on one side
of the body. However, the impact
of stroke can go beyond physical
disabilities. If the stroke has
affected the language areas of the
brain, the patient may also end
up with aphasia — an acquired
Patients with aphasia
may have difficulties with
communication, and this
may affect their relationships,
quality of life, and socioemotional
Globally, it is estimated that
one-third of stroke survivors
experience aphasia. At Outram
Community Hospital (OCH),
under SingHealth Community
Hospitals, about 30 per cent of
stroke patients suffer from this
condition, said Ms Jamie Yin,
Senior Speech Therapist, OCH.
When a patient has a stroke,
the blockage or rupture of
blood vessels in the brain may
sometimes result in brain cell
death or damage in areas that
control language — typically the
left side of the brain.
Aphasia may also be caused
by head injury and trauma, and
There are two main types of
aphasia. People with receptive
aphasia have problems
understanding what others say,
while those with expressive
aphasia have difficulty
expressing their needs and
thoughts. Aphasia can also cause
difficulties in reading, writing,
and comprehending numbers.
A common misconception
is that patients with aphasia
have lower intelligence quotient
(IQ), but that is far from the truth. “Aphasia affects a person’s
communication abilities but
not their intelligence per se,”
Ms Yin said.
Road to recovery
Aphasia can differ in severity,
depending on the extent and
area of damage to the language
areas of the brain. In some cases,
patients with mild aphasia may
be able to recover spontaneously.
However, it is recommended
that patients be assessed by a
Speech Therapist so that the
aphasia, even in its mildest forms,
can be monitored and treated,
Speech therapy is the
for patients with aphasia
to relearn language and
communication skills, since
both surgery and medication
do not alleviate this condition.
Speech Therapists typically
evaluate the type and severity
of the aphasia, before setting
therapy goals with the patients
and their family.
“Recovery depends on factors
such as age, extent of the
stroke, other medical conditions,
how early speech therapy
was introduced, as well as the
intensity of the therapy. People
with aphasia may experience
greater recovery if therapy
is started early and provided
more intensively at the start of
treatment,” said Ms Yin.
Aphasia may affect a patient’s social and emotional
well-being. Here are some tips from Ms Yin on how to ease
communication challenges and better support a family member,
friend or colleague with the condition:
• Talk to them in short and clear sentences.
• Give them time to respond and do not rush them.
• If they did not understand you, repeat yourself slowly and clearly.
• Supplement the conversation with hand gestures, writing
• Be patient and encouraging, and communicate respectfully.
• If either party faces frustration due to a communication breakdown,
consider taking a break from the conversation and try again later.