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Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words – Susan Wortman-Jutt

Language is an essential part of our lives
that we often take for granted. With it, we can communicate our thoughts
and feelings, lose ourselves in novels, send text messages, and greet friends. It’s hard to imagine being unable
to turn thoughts into words. But if the delicate web of language
networks in your brain became disrupted by stroke,
illness, or trauma, you could find yourself truly
at a loss for words. This disorder, called aphasia,
can impair all aspects of communication. People who have aphasia remain
as intelligent as ever. They know what they want to say, but can’t always get their words
to come out correctly. They may unintentionally use
substitutions called paraphasias, switching related words,
like saying “dog” for “cat,” or words that sound similar,
such as “house” for “horse.” Sometimes, their words may even be
unrecognizable. There are several types of aphasia
grouped into two categories: fluent, or receptive, aphasia and non-fluent, or expressive, aphasia. People with fluent aphasia may have
normal vocal inflection but use words that lack meaning. They have difficulty comprehending
the speech of others and are frequently unable to recognize
their own speech errors. People with non-fluent aphasia,
on the other hand, may have good comprehension but will experience long hesitations
between words and make grammatical errors. We all have that tip-of-the-tongue feeling
from time to time when we can’t think of a word, but having aphasia can make it hard
to name simple, everyday objects. Even reading and writing can be difficult
and frustrating. So how does this language loss happen? The human brain has two hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere
governs language. We know this because in 1861, the physician Paul Broca studied a patient who lost the ability to use all
but a single word, “tan.” During a postmortem study
of that patient’s brain, Broca discovered a large lesion
in the left hemisphere now known as Broca’s area. Scientists today believe that Broca’s area
is responsible in part for naming objects and coordinating the muscles
involved in speech. Behind Broca’s area is Wernicke’s area
near the auditory cortex. That’s where the brain attaches
meaning to speech sounds. Damage to Wernicke’s area impairs the
brain’s ability to comprehend language. Aphasia is caused by injury to one or
both of these specialized language areas. Fortunately, there are other areas
of the brain which support these language centers and can assist with communication. Even brain areas that control movement
are connected to language. FMRI studies found that when we hear
action words, like “run” or “dance,” parts of the brain responsible
for movement light up as if the body was actually running
or dancing. Our other hemisphere contributes
to language, too, enhancing the rhythm and intonation
of our speech. These non-language areas sometimes
assist people with aphasia when communication is difficult. So how common is aphasia? Approximately 1 million people
in the U.S. alone have it, with an estimated 80,000 new cases
per year. About one-third of stroke survivors
suffer from aphasia making it more prevalent
than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, yet less widely known. There is one rare form of aphasia called
primary progressive aphasia, or PPA, which is not caused by stroke
or brain injury, but is actually a form of dementia in which language loss
is the first symptom. The goal in treating PPA is to maintain
language function for as long as possible before other symptoms of dementia
eventually occur. However, when aphasia is acquired
from a stroke or brain trauma, language improvement may be achieved
through speech therapy. Our brain’s ability to repair itself,
known as brain plasticity, permits areas surrounding
a brain lesion to take over some functions during
the recovery process. Scientists have been conducting
experiments using new forms of technology, which they believe may encourage brain
plasticity in people with aphasia. Meanwhile, many people with aphasia
remain isolated, afraid that others won’t understand
them or give them extra time to speak. By offering them the time and flexibility
to communicate in whatever way they can, you can help open the door
to language again, moving beyond the limitations of aphasia.

66 Replies to “Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words – Susan Wortman-Jutt”

  • I always have what seems like visual concepts of what I want to say, but most of the time, it takes me awhile to to properly formulate it and as I see the impatient faces, I tend to screw up half of my sentences, if I even get it all out. I even caught myself saying the complete wrong thing compared to what I thought I said, which made me think of the amount situations I've been in where I thought I said my thoughts clearly, only to have someone say i dont make any sense and laugh at me or give me a weird face. If they only knew

  • I used to get temporal lobe seizures and expressive aphasia was one very annoying side effect. I don't know how I came up with it, but my strategy was to increase my vocabulary to where I had about five synonyms for any word ready to step forward and take the place of whichever words I had temporarily lost. Words and language are one of the few things that are easy for me, and I've always read a lot. That, of course, helped.

  • I think a great treatment would be that people who suffer of aphasia join to people who's learning the language and work together. It would be nice I believe.

  • This is not about it but: is there someone that also can’t imagine? Like imagine a red apple,how does it look like? I can’t do that.

  • this isn’t a problem but sometimes i think of the word in my first language, try to translate it to my second, but can only think of it in my third 😂

  • I can't imagine having a word on the tip of your tongue but not be able to say it happening everytime you speak. That must be frustrating.

  • This would explain a lot!!! I’m not self diagnosing myself, but these symptoms and descriptions sound similar to what I experience. Especially non-fluent aphasia.

    I constantly freeze between words/phrases, mispronounce, make grammar errors, can’t find words to say even though I know them, etc… but I only have this problem with speech. It does not occur when I type or write. I only noticed the freezing part recently, when I had to record myself talking. I had no idea. It’s not stuttering, it’s just freezing/hesitating between words and it’s not conscious or intentional.

  • What do you call this syndrome like you talk and there is always a repeated words like "May-may-may I go to-to-to the bathroom" its like you cant talk fluently..(sorry for my bad english) please guys help me

  • I work in a noisy environment which I think makes the problem worse. Though it can be 'Lost Words' I'm terrible at remembering work colleagues names, though a few stick in my head and I can't figure out why this is. it's very awkward not being able to remember names of people, some of them whom you could have been working with for several years. I know that stress can make the symptom even worse and it's often a positive feedback scenario whereby the frustration and pressure to remember a name causes even more stress on top. I therefore avoid team leader roles where I have to remember names. I know it can be a side symptom of the dyslexic spectrum, as there are different variants of dyslexia.

  • What if you can understand language completely, but can’t speak it? That would be damage to only the Broca’s area, so is that still a type of Aphasia, or something else entirely? Being essentially mute, but you understand every thing that you hear and know what you want to say, you just can’t at all times— never once speaking. Is that simply a severe case?

  • ok so in the show Perception, they say aphasia allows a human to tell slight vocal tells? Like when you lie. And they find it funny. Is that true?

  • i think i have non fluent aphasia coz sometimes its already n the tip of my tounge but still i can't say it. 😢

  • You omitted anesthesia as a cause of temporary aphasia. I've been aware that I was aphasic when I couldn't understand the words the nurses were saying in recovery and I couldn't understand my own speech. It resolved in a few minutes as I regained full consciousness.

  • It is so frustrating when telling a story or talking to someone and the words won't come out, I initially thought: Hey may be its because you speak couple different languages that may be you're not fluent in some of those languages however I've recently noticed that forgetting my words or rather having difficulties in making them come out of my mouth (very simple words at that too) happen to be very pronounced in my first language the one I'm most fluent in. Also I can write anything I want and the words on paper (or on a computer) come out pretty great but when it comes to verbally expressing myself I find that a lot of my words won't come out or won't come out properly, also reading is even harder for me than speaking sometimes I find myself going back to the same sentence a couple times just to fully grasp what is being said in a book or something else I'm reading and its not because I don't know the words but because I can't process it fast enough.

  • MY GOODNESS i was just talking to my mother about the same thing yesterday, I told her that at times it's like my brain is literally empty, no words in it at all. I seem to forget the basics of speech. My mother told me that It might just be a lack of confidence, but it turns out there's an ACTUAL WORD FOR THAT MY GOD YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW I'M FEELING ABOUT THIS

  • I searched this because I’ve had it twice before and didn’t know what it was, it’s so scary I thought I was going to have a speech problem. I couldn’t get my words out like I wanted to ask my mom if we was having chocolate cake and I was saying fish and plate, really weird and scary!


  • After an epileptic seizure I have a period of aphasia, actually a mix of both fluent and non-fluent one. It's really sad and demoralizing when you try to say things but all that comes out is gibberish, it frustrates me to the point where I start crying until it goes away after a couple of minutes.

  • I think i have aphasia maybe
    I know self diagnosing yourself isnt well but this sounds like me
    Like i actually forgot the word cattle, basket, and windshield today like wot and I had to think about the word diagnosing as you can see or maybe im just overreacting but this happens to me everyday huh

    Nevermind i think im just thinking about it too much
    Its just a bit frustrating to be honest because i write stories,,, i know it dont look like it but im typing shite in the comments section like am i supposed to write a novel down here

  • Really good video on Aphasia but I have missed two types of them. The global Aphasia and that one that could happend when we have an accident and the head was involved. I do not know the english word for that sorry. I'm going to be an speachtherapist in three years and I want to help mostly people with Aphasia and the worst variant Dysphasia (when the person can't speak anymore maybe just like a baby). Back to the video: It was really good, I missed some things but I'm learning this so it is not tragic.

  • Could somebody help me! I think I am non-fluent aphasia. I am very smart since I was small, I am fast learner, I play piano, I compose classical orchestra pieces, and really good at games and sport. But sometimes it is hard for me to find correct words so I try to find another word with the same meaning. I have tried to learn English since 6 years ago, but I always failed my English tests. From the first time, I thought that I was bad at English but I realize that I can't even speak with my own language appropriately. Sometimes I forgot words, sometimes I said a word that had different meaning so the listener would be confused. One day, I looked at my face, it is not symmetrical and also I often experienced a temeporary blindness only on my right eye. And even the length of my left index finger is different from my right. That is why I think something goes wrong with 1 side of my brain. Does anybody know my problem? Is it a non-fluent aphasia?

  • I think I have these simptoms, I keep forgetting what i want to say and seem blur when talking with people or presentation, even in my tongue language. I thought I had an anxiety or depression but I think I'm not. I can control my stress. But I lose my interest to talk to people in recent years. I can't express my feeling and what it's worse than that Im feeling that my communication is soo bad, i known that bcoz people from surrounding told me that and I am realise too. I think I am not shy or quiet person. I am feeling something wrong with myself. I keep finding the ways how to overcome this problem, but it's not easy as I thought to overcome this problem in myself. How should I meet is the doctor or psychologist to treat this? I need help.

  • This explains EXACTLY what i've been experiencing. I thought I was alone, and that I was really going through something unknown and i've been suffering greatly for not being able to explain things to people. I really hope I could consult to a neurologist about my situation because idk if mine's a non-fluent aphasia or the primary progressive aphasia because apparently, my forgetfulness isn't also normal.

    Please I don't want to have dementia or something… this scares me a lot…

  • It really sucks to have this disorder. For one thing speech can't flow naturally like it used to. It's really frustrating.

  • For me with Aphasia it’s like I know the word, I think the word, but when I say the word it’s different……like i would say “Wash dasher” instead of “Dish washer” and it’s very frustrating. Btw (I wasn’t diagnosed by a doctor but I’m like 98 percent sure I have it)

  • Question. Since it's dangerous to self-diagnose, which type of doctor should I ask for consultation? Neurologist?

  • …Watching this, I actually suffer from Fluent Broca’s Aphasia and have for a very long time. I randomly pause when talking, I know and understand the word i want to say, Have pronounced it and will but in that moment I cannot put it to words. I often substitute words and phrases which causes me to reiterate almost everything i say.

  • i got aphasia, someone cant undersand my speech.
    i dont know where im starting to make dialogue or arraging words that make everyone understand.

    this is bad, so bad.

  • I read that, after aphasia, if someone trains to their non-dominant hand as their dominant hand, they improved in their aphasia. It’s because brain plasticity I think. It is in the book “True Psychology” by Swami Abhedhananda.

  • I suffer from Aphasia during or around a migraine attack. Those sometimes take days or go on and off for days and they often occur in times that I really need my words (new job, meeting new people, long talks). One of the worst feelings in the world.

  • Does anyone know if broca’s aphasia can develop in someone with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia? I developed aphasia in 2017 when I was 25 (suddenly) and though it has improved, it hasn’t resolved.

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