What is Aphasia?


Imagine struggling to say your own name, to write a simple email, or to read the newspaper. These are realities for individuals living with aphasia.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that robs individuals of their ability to speak, understand, read, and write. It is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain. Typically, it results from a stroke, but it can also be caused by a traumatic brain injury, a brain tumor, a brain infection, or brain degeneration.

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder which affects one or several areas of communication:

  • verbal expression (speaking)
  • auditory comprehension (understanding what others say)
  • writing
  • reading

Aphasia is caused by damage to language areas of the brain. Damage to the brain can be the result of any of the following:

  • stroke (CVA-cerebrovascular accident) (most common cause)
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • head injury
  • brain tumor
  • surgery
  • encephalitis
  • degeneration (primary progressive aphasia, PPA)

It is more common than you may think:

• it affects over 2 million Americans
• based on national estimates, over 6,000 people in Pima County are living with aphasia
• more than 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year
• it is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy

And the numbers are growing:

  • There is a growing number of individuals in stroke-prone ages
    • US population is both increasing and aging
    • stroke incidence doubles with each decade of life after age 55
  • We are seeing an increase in survival rates after stroke
    • emergency response times for stroke are decreasing and acute intervention procedures are improving, resulting in improved survival rates
    • new medications and maintenance regimens are extending stroke survivors’ lifespans
  • Aphasia is more common among older individuals because they are more likely to suffer damage as their brains age BUT…it can occur in people of all ages
  • it affects people of all races and nationalities
  • it affects both men and women
  • NO! In fact, it is unlikely you will ever meet two people who have exactly the same language problems
  • problems can range from very mild to very severe
  • each of the communication areas (speaking, understanding, reading, writing) can be affected to varying degrees
  • Apraxia of Speech (AOS): difficulty producing the correct articulation and prosody (the rhythm and timing) of speech
  • Dysarthria: weakness, slowness, or incoordination of the speech mechanism


So… individuals with aphasia can show a wide range of communication difficulties. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!

Recovery varies from person to person. Some people recover almost completely very quickly whereas others struggle with communication difficulties for years.

  • It is hard to say exactly…Some things you have no control over
    • size and location of damage to the brain
    • your age
  • Some things you can control
    • practicing your communication skills
    • challenging yourself to try new situations
    • opening yourself up to the idea that life can still be very good, even with aphasia

Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a condition in which deterioration of the language areas of the brain leads to greater and greater difficulty with communication (speaking, understand, reading, writing) over time. As additional areas of the brain deteriorate, other cognitive skills (memory, judgement, caring for oneself) are impacted.

Research has shown that aphasia has a greater negative impact on a person’s quality of life than cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease (Lam & Wodchis, 2010)

  • Researchers studied health-related factors affecting quality of life of residents in hospital-based long-term care facilities in Ontario, Canada.
  • They examined the impact of 60 different diseases and 15 conditions on quality of life of 66,193 people.
  • Results showed aphasia has the largest negative impact on quality of life, more than cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The negative effects of aphasia on an individual’s quality of life include their inability to communicate with and engage their family, friends, doctors and their wider community.

Americans Are Affected by Aphasia

of Stroke survivors acquire aphasia

Americans acquire Aphasia each year

of people have never heard of aphasia

Please help the individuals who are living with this challenging disorder.


We look forward to hearing from you about our mission to treat aphasia.

  • Location: 1011 N Craycroft Rd, Suite 301, Tucson, AZ 85711
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 12232, Tucson, AZ 85732
  • 520-730-8428
  • FAX: 520-300-8328
  • info@friendsofaphasia.com


    Amazon Smile
    © All rights reserved, Friends of Aphasia