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Living with aphasia after a stroke: What you should know

When a stroke occurs in the left side of the brain, the part that controls speech and language, it can affect a person’s ability to communicate. This condition is known as aphasia. The inability to think of the right word to express a thought can be frustrating for stroke patients, but there are ways to help them regain many communication skills. Here are a few facts about aphasia and tips for dealing with it.  


About 1 million people in the United States are living with aphasia, which is usually caused by a stroke. However, about 86% of the people in the United States are not familiar with the condition. Because communication is difficult for people with aphasia, they often feel isolated and misunderstood. Even though someone with aphasia has difficulty expressing thoughts, they still have thoughts. Aphasia affects communication, not intelligence. People who experience aphasia after a stroke often suffer depression because they are unable to communicate. 


Image used licensed under Shutterstock

People who have aphasia want to interact with others, and they still can if they use some new strategies. To begin, they should let others know that it may take time to express an idea. Using pictures or diagrams can often help get the message across. Turning off the television or radio can make it easier to concentrate. It is important not to give up. Progress can be made with intense therapy, but it will take time. Aphasia does not go away, but communication skills can improve. 


Communicating with someone struggling with aphasia helps them recover. Remember that aphasia has nothing to do with hearing; speaking loudly is not necessary. Instead, be a patient listener. Allow time for the person to find the words and resist the temptation to say the words for the person. When speaking, look directly at the person so your facial expressions and other nonverbal cues can be seen. Try to use simple sentences and speak slowly. Pictures or diagrams can sometimes help. Some aphasia patients find it helpful to know the general topic before the conversation begins. For example, start the conversation by saying, “I thought we could talk about today’s schedule.” When possible, phrase questions so they can be answered with a simple yes or no.  

THERAPY FOR APHASIA Image used licensed under Shutterstock

Working with a therapist is an effective way to cope with aphasia. The type of therapy used will depend on the communication ability. The therapist may ask the patient to match words to pictures or repeat back words or phrases. Therapy can be repetitive, which can be exhausting but is necessary for progress. Therapists can also suggest alternative forms of communication like pointing to pictures or using gestures to communicate. There are also electronic devices that can play messages for the patient. 


Strokes happen very quickly but can change a person’s life forever. To be unable to express thoughts or find the right words can be extremely frustrating. The best way to help a stroke patient regain lost words and skills is through targeted and comprehensive therapy with experienced professionals. This level of care can be found at Whitehall of Deerfield, where there is a team of neurological and stroke experts ready to provide exceptional care. After assessing each person’s abilities, a personalized care program is developed that addresses physical and psychological needs. Everything from video swallowing studies to physical and occupational therapy in a state-of-the-art gym is offered up to seven days a week. When a stroke, aneurysm or other brain injury occurs, look to Whitehall of Deerfield for excellent care in a resort-like setting. 

One of the most respected short-term rehabilitation centers on the North Shore is Whitehall of Deerfield where guests can be assured of superior care. With excellent outcomes and one-on-one therapies, Whitehall of Deerfield has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and post-hospital rehabilitation centers. Whitehall of Deerfield is also ranked #4 in Newsweek magazine’s 2022 list of best post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers in Illinois—and has received both U.S. News & World Report’s and Medicare’s top five-star rating. Learn more about the individualized therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600. 

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600