Aphasia Therapy

About Aphasia Therapy

Aphasia therapy is to help with Aphasia (uh FAY zyuh), a partial or complete loss of the ability to convey ideas or comprehend written or spoken language, because of damage to the brain through injury or disease.

There are several types of aphasia therapy currently in practice. The purpose of each treatment method is the same: to restore some or all of a person’s ability to produce, process, and understand language. All types of aphasia therapy follow the same three principles:

  1. Aphasia treatment is most effective when practitioners use several forms of sensory stimulation with the patient. Music is often used for auditory stimulation; drawings, pictures, or other forms of art “massage” the visual parts of the brain.
  2. Aphasia therapy works best when delivered in a concentrated manner. Several treatments over a few days have a better result than many sessions over several weeks.
  3. The benefit of treatment increases when patients are given exercises that gradually increase in difficulty.

Types of Aphasia Therapy

Programmed Simulation
This therapy focuses on using various means of stimulating the senses while employing increasingly difficult exercises. As mentioned above, music and pictures are commonly utilized.
Cognitive Linguistic Therapy
This treatment teaches patients comprehension skills by helping them recognize the emotional aspects of language. For example, a patient may be asked to define a feeling word such as “sad” by using descriptive words and phrases.
Stimulation-Facilitation Therapy
Repetition is the key to this therapy. Auditory stimulation is implemented to help patients with the syntactic (sentence structure) and semantic (word meaning) parts of language.
PACE (Promoting Aphasic’s Communicative Effectiveness)
The focus in PACE is communication between patient and therapist. Sessions are primarily for practicing spontaneous conversation skills. Therapists use the means of communication preferred by the patient. Drawings and pictures are frequently employed.
Pharmacotherapy
Few studies have been done on the efficacy of drugs to treat aphasia, but it remains a popular form a therapy. The three drugs most used are donezepil, piribedil, and amphetamines. Use of amphetamines seems to improve the outcome of non-medicinal treatments.
Group Aphasia Therapy
Since language is part of social life, group therapy sessions give people a chance to practice their skills and get feedback from therapists and other aphasic patients. Sometimes, the patient’s family becomes the treatment group.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
TMS involves sending magnetic impulses to a part of the brain believed to interfere with language learning, enhancing the person’s ability to recover.

The Future

Implanting healthy cells into damaged areas of the brain is a possible future treatment for aphasia and other brain disorders. More experimentation is being done with magnets, and new skill-based approaches are being studied.

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