How is aphasia diagnosed?
Aphasia is usually first recognized by the physician who treats the individual for his or her brain injury. Frequently this is a neurologist. The physician typically performs tests that require the individual to follow commands, answer questions, name objects, and converse. If the physician suspects aphasia, the individual is often referred to a speech-language
pathologist, who performs a comprehensive examination of the person's ability to understand, speak, read, and write.
Following brain injury, an initial bedside assessment is made to determine whether language function has been affected. If the individual experiences difficulty communicating, attempts are made to determine whether this difficulty arises from impaired language comprehension or an impaired ability to speak. A typical examination involves listening to spontaneous speech and evaluating the individual's ability to recognize and name objects, comprehend what is heard, and repeat sample words and phrases. The individual may also be asked to read text aloud and explain what the passage means. In addition, writing ability is evaluated by having the individual copy text, transcribe dictated text, and write something without prompting.
A speech pathologist or neuropsychologist may be asked to conduct more extensive examinations using in-depth, standardized tests. Commonly used tests include the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination, the Western Aphasia Battery, and possibly, the Porch Index of Speech Ability.
The results of these tests indicate the severity of the aphasia and may also provide information regarding the exact location of the brain damage. This more extensive testing is also designed to provide the information necessary to design an individualized speech therapy program. Further information about the location of the damage is gained through the use of imaging technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography scans (CT).
More information on aphasia
What is aphasia? - Aphasia is a defect or loss of language function in which the comprehension or expression of words (or nonverbal equivalents of words) is impaired as a result of brain injury.
What is Broca's aphasia? - Broca's aphasia, also called motor aphasia, results from damage to the front portion or frontal lobe of the language-dominant area of the brain.
What is Wernicke's aphasia? - Wernicke's aphasia is caused by damage to the side portion or temporal lobe of the language-dominant area of the brain.
What is global aphasia? - Global aphasia is caused by widespread damage to the language areas of the left hemisphere. As a result, all basic language functions are affected.
What is nominal aphasia? - Nominal aphasia is a form of aphasia in which the subject has difficulty remembering or recognizing names which the subject should know well.
What is conduction aphasia? - Conduction aphasia is a relatively rare form of aphasia, caused by damage to the nerve fibres connecting Wernicke's and Broca's areas.
What causes aphasia? - Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. This damage affects one or more of the basic language functions.
How is aphasia diagnosed? - Commonly used tests to diagnose aphasia include the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination, the Western Aphasia Battery, and possibly, the Porch Index of Speech Ability.
What's the treatment for aphasia? - Aphasia treatment therapy strives to improve an individual's ability to communicate by helping the person to use remaining abilities, to restore language abilities.
What's the prognosis of aphasia? - The outcome of aphasia is difficult to predict given the wide range of variability of the condition. The location of the injury is important and is clue to prognosis.