Did you ever think that there were people who face difficulty in understanding spoken language? Isn’t language the first thing we learn? Why would someone feel difficulty in understanding and speaking it? Difficulty in understanding written language is understandable but why spoken? Well, difficulty in dealing with spoken language is a thing. It is a disorder called dysphasia. This disorder affects your ability to produce and understand spoken language. It can also hinder your reading, writing, and gesturing capabilities.
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Unfortunately, dysphasia is often mistaken as dysphagia (an eating disorder) or other speech disorders. In fact, if you google dysphasia on YouTube, you will get several videos on dysphagia, as if you made a spelling mistake. This often leads to the wrong diagnosis and treatment of this specific disorder. Also, this unrecognition can take a toll on the affected people’s mental health.
Scientifically speaking, dysphasia occurs when an area of your brain gets damaged and can’t function properly. This area is responsible for turning thoughts into spoken language, so people with the disorder face difficulty in verbal communication. This makes dysphasia a language disorder.
Risk Factors of Dysphasia
Strokes are the most common cause of dysphasia. If you ever get a stroke, a blockage in the blood vessels of the brain prevents the cells from getting any blood and oxygen. When the brain cells get deprived of oxygen for too long, they can die, leading to dysphasia.
Some diseases like TIAs, migraines, and seizures, can cause temporary brain damage. In such conditions, the language abilities are restored, once you recover from the attack.
Some other common causes of dysphasia include:
- severe head injuries
- brain tumors
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- a sedentary lifestyle
- neurodegenerative diseases
- transient ischemic attacks (TIA)
If you have any of the mentioned issues, controlling them can drastically lower your chances of ever getting dysphasia.
Types of dysphasia
Dysphasia can be divided into several types and subtypes. Each type is characterized by damage in a particular area of the brain. As brain damage is not often clear, so all types of dysphasia are not very distinct and different from one another.
1. Broca’s dysphasia
It is one of the most common types. This is characterized by the damage to the Broca’s part of the brain. This specific area is responsible for speech production. People with this type of Broca’s Dysphasia face extreme difficulty in forming words and complete sentences. Such people either speak with difficulty or do not speak at all. These people often understand things and languages better than they speak.
2. Expressive types
This affects speech and language output. Such people do understand what other people are saying but have difficulty producing speech. Such people know are very well aware of the difficulties they face.
3. Receptive types
This particular type affects language comprehension. People with this type of dysphasia are often able to speak, ut such people fail to understand the meaning of what they are speaking, and are unaware that others don’t understand them.
It is a rare type of dysphasia. This is also known as isolation dysphasia. It affects the nerve fibers that carry information between the brain’s language centers, as well as other centers that integrate and process subtle aspects of communication. This is further divided into three types; sensory, motor, and transcortical.
4. Wernicke’s dysphasia
This is characterized by damage to Wernicke’s area of the brain. This specific area is responsible for helping us in understanding the meaning of words and languages. Such people can speak quite frequently but they often use senseless phrases and words, making their speech incomprehensible. These people may also have difficulties understanding spoken language.
5. Conduction dysphasia (also known as conduction aphasia)
Conduction dysphasia is one of the rarest types of dysphasia. Such people can usually understand others and produce speech themselves, but fail to repeat it.
6. Anomic dysphasia
Anomic dysphasia is a somewhat milder type of dysphasia. People with anomic dysphasia have difficulties retrieving and understanding specific words, including names. Such people usually pause and take gaps when they can’t retrieve a specific word.
7. Global type
Global dysphasia is characterized by widespread damage in the brain language centers. Such people have extreme difficulty in understanding and expressing language.
Difference between dysphasia and aphasia
These two have the same causes and symptoms, but aphasia is the complete loss of speech and comprehension abilities. Whereas dysphasia only involves moderate language impairments.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A simple physical exam can be used to diagnose dysplasia. Other complicated tests involved in the diagnosis of this disease are a neurological exam, image testing, and a speech-language evaluation.
The common treatment for dysphasia is specialized speech therapy.