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What’s Aphasia, the Language Disorder US Media Star Wendy Williams is Battling?

Wendy Williams, a US media star, recently stated that she has aphasia.

She was diagnosed in 2023 and is now getting treatment.

Aphasia is generally unknown, despite the fact that it affects millions of people, particularly those in their middle to elderly age.

The National Aphasia Association estimates that approximately 2 million people in the US suffer with aphasia.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a linguistic issue that affects a person’s verbal or written communication skills.

It is caused by damage or disturbance to certain brain areas that regulate language, expression, and comprehension.

There are numerous forms of aphasia, depending on the location and severity of the brain damage.

The National Aphasia Association identifies six kinds of aphasia, including:

  • Global aphasia

This sort of aphasia is the most severe. It is caused by damage to several regions of the brain that are in charge of interpreting spoken language, accessing vocabulary, applying grammar, and creating words and sentences.

Patients with global aphasia can only create a few recognizable words and comprehend little to no spoken language.

  • Broca’s aphasia

This type of aphasia is sometimes called non-fluent or expressive aphasia. It is also the most prevalent type of aphasia.

Broca’s aphasia is caused by injury to the left frontal portion of the brain, resulting in a partial loss of language capacity. It is also difficult for them to communicate fluently, and they may only say a few words at a time.

However, one can still understand speech and read.

  • Mixed non-fluent aphasia

Patients with this type of aphasia have limited speech, much as those with Broca’s aphasia.

However, comprehension of speech is limited, and one cannot read or write beyond a rudimentary level.

  • Wernicke’s aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia is sometimes known as fluent aphasia or receptive aphasia.

Patients with this type of aphasia have a limited ability to comprehend spoken words but can produce connected speech.

However, what they say may not make much sense or contain irrelevant terms in their sentences. Wernicke’s aphasia also causes difficulty reading and writing.

  • Anomic aphasia

Anomic aphasia is a milder form of aphasia. Patients with anomic aphasia are able to interpret and repeat speech. In most situations, individuals can read well but struggle to find words while speaking or writing.

  • Primary progressive aphasia (PPA)

PPA is a neurological condition characterized by gradually deteriorating linguistic abilities.

PPA is caused by the degeneration of brain tissue responsible for speech and language. It typically begins as a modest language issue and progresses to a near-complete incapacity to communicate in its most severe form.

This type of aphasia is often accompanied by additional signs of dementia or memory loss.

What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is mostly caused by impairment to one or more language centers of the brain. However, any disorders that interfere with your brain’s activities can potentially cause it.

These problems include:

  • Stroke: According to a study, aphasia occurs in 25 to 40 percent of people who have had a stroke.
  • Head injury
  • Brain tumour
  • Infection
  • Dementia

What are the symptoms of aphasia?

Symptoms of aphasia can vary from mild to severe. They depend on where the damage occurs in the brain and the severity of that damage.

The symptoms include:

  • Trouble speaking, reading or writing
  • Struggling with finding the right term or word
  • Using strange or wrong words in conversation
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s speech
  • Writing sentences that don’t make sense or trouble expressing yourself in writing
  • Speaking in short, incomplete sentences or phrases
  • Using words in the wrong orders

Can aphasia be treated?

There is no direct cure for aphasia. However, it is treatable and is based on age, cause and extent of condition.

The goal of treatment is to improve communication ability which can be done through:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Nonverbal communication therapies
  • Group therapy for patients and their families
  • Surgery: This is done when it is a brain tumour affecting the language centre of the brain.

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