A stroke is like a brain attack. It causes brain damage. When you have a stroke it could damage any part of your brain. Each part of the brain does a different job. When part of the brain gets damaged it’s not able to do its job anymore. For example, if the part of the brain that controls the right arm is damaged then you can’t move your right arm. It’s not because the arm is broken, it’s because the part of the brain that controls the arm is broken, so the movement messages are not getting through.
Aphasia (say uh·fei·zee·uh)
Stroke can damage the part of the brain where words and language are. This is called aphasia. Aphasia is a problem with using language. People with aphasia can still think clearly but they can’t find the words to express their thoughts. They can use their mouth and vocal cords to speak, but they can’t always find words to say. Language is not just speaking. Language includes:
- Understanding what you hear
- Understanding what you read
- Writing down your ideas
- Using numbers
Aphasia can make it difficult, or impossible, to use all these parts of language. People with aphasia are still intelligent and they still have good ideas, they just find it hard to express themselves and understand conversations.
Apraxia of speech (say uh·prak·see·uh)
If the stroke damages the part of the brain that controls speech, you can get apraxia of speech. Apraxia of speech is when the message gets mixed up as it travels from your brain to your mouth. Your mouth doesn’t move the way you want it to and you are not able to say the word. Apraxia of speech is just a problem with speech, not language.You can still understand what people are saying to you, you know what to say and you can still read and write. It’s just that your speech is hard to understand.
Dysarthria (say duh·saa·three·uh)
Dysarthria is when you have trouble controlling your breathing, vocal cords, tongue or lips so your speech is not clear. It might be slurred or too quiet or have an unusual tone of voice. Dysarthria is just a problem with speech, not language. You are still intelligent. You can still understand what people are saying to you, you know what to say and you can still read and write. It’s just that your speech is hard to understand.
Right hemisphere language disorder
If you have a stroke in the right side of your brain you can get right hemisphere language disorder. People with right hemisphere language disorder can find it hard to understand nonverbal cues, like facial expressions and tone of voice. They might say inappropriate things or talk at the wrong time. People with right hemisphere language disorder are still intelligent. They just find it hard to follow the rules of communication.
Diffculties in more than one area
Some stroke survivors have more than one communication problem. They have problems with language and speech. For example aphasia and apraxia of speech.
When you see a speech-language therapist they will assess your speech and language to find out if you have any of these communication problems.