Language-related difficulties are a common effect of traumatic brain injury. While some of these problems are short term and resolve over time, others are permanent. Problems can be the result of damage to areas that govern communication in the brain, or they can be the result of motor problems or weaknesses.
Aphasia is a language disorder that affects both comprehension and production of speech, as well as the ability to read and write. The most common types of aphasia experience by traumatic brain injury survivors include:
- Global Aphasia – The patient can speak and understand very little, and can’t read or write. In some cases, symptoms improve as the survivor recovers.
- Broca’s Aphasia – The patient can understand speech and the written word, but speaking and writing is limited and difficult. Because the patient is aware of his or her deficits, this aphasia can be extremely frustrating.
- Wernicke’s Aphasia – The patient speaks in gibberish, but isn’t aware that he or she is doing so. The patient may also have trouble reading and writing.
- Anomic Aphasia – The patient understands speech and can read, but has difficulty finding words in speech and writing.
Language difficulties relating to motor problems include:
- Apraxia – The patient has difficulty coordinating mouth and speech movements.
- Dysarthria – The patient can think of the right words to use, but neurological damage prevents him or her from using the muscles needed to form the words.