Aphasia and Stroke

Expressive or receptive aphasia can occur after stroke and impairs one's ability to express or understand language. Reading and writing can be effected as well. Expressive language disorders cause difficulty in articulating or saying words, but there is often good comprehension and understanding of spoken language.

Receptive language disorders, on the other hand, cause impairment in one's ability to understand language thus comprehension may be poor. Detailed descriptions of expressive and receptive problems are discussed below.

Wernicke's Aphasia

Stroke victims with this type of receptive language disorder often have great difficulty with understanding speech. Their pattern of speech may sound right, but they often say words or sentences that don't make sense and may not be aware that they are saying the wrong words. Reading and writing are often grossly impaired.

Broca's Aphasia

Speech production is severely limited often to less than four words. The words used frequently make sense, but the stroke patient has great difficulty coming up with the words and does not form complete sentences. For example, the person may say "bathroom" instead of "I need to go to the bathroom". The patient with this type of language disorder may be able to understand speech and be able to read but have difficulty with writing.

Global Aphasia

Global Aphasia - This is a severe language disorder and is characterized by the stroke victim neither understanding or speaking language. The ability to read and write is also lost. It is a result of extensive damage to the language areas of the brain.

To learn more about other types of receptive and expressive speech disorders, visit the National Aphasia Association web page.


Stroke victims with speech difficulties should seek out the assistance of a licensed speech and language pathologist (SLP). A SLP can work with stroke patients to help restore impaired language abilities as much as possible, maximize remaining language function, and learn techniques to compensate for language deficits. Compensatory techniques taught may include using gestures, using pictures, writing, or communication boards or cards. You can buy a variety of communication boards online or get a free printable communication board at http://www.amyspeechlanguagetherapy.com/communication-boards.html or http://www.do2learn.com/adult/index.htm

An example of a communication board is provided below:

There are computer programs that are used to help treat language disorders. These programs are designed to help improve reading, speech, recall, and comprehension. The computer can help stimulate the stroke victim's vision and hearing at the same time which is beneficial to the recovery process.

Specific exercises for speech and language impairment can be found at www.speech-therapy-on-video.com.

There are also phone and tablet apps that can be used to help with speech difficulties or act as assistive communication device. Some apps that are currently available include:

For IPad:
My Talk Tools
My Voice Communication Aid
Comprehension TherAppy
Dragon Dictation
Small Talk
Talk Path
iName It

For Android
AAC Speech Communicator
AAC Speech Buddy (also for IPad)
TaptoTalk (also for IPad)
Quick Talk AAC (also for IPad)

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